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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
UK high in Europe IVF league
Woman and baby
Fewer than a third of cycles resulted in live births
More fertility treatment was carried out in the UK than in virtually any other European country, according to official statistics.

This is despite the fact that the NHS will not pay for IVF in many parts of the country.

However, clinics here still lag behind those in Germany - which completed almost double the number of treatment cycles.

In the three years since 1997, the numbers of treatment cycles has increased by 24% across Europe from 203,225 per year to 249,624 in 1999.

Three countries, Germany (60,723 cycles per year), France (51,868) and UK (30,868) accounted for nearly half of all those cycles. Next on the list was Italy with just 15,215.

This compares with the US where there are close to 100,000 cycles a year.

In the UK 29.4% of IVF treatments resulted in a successful pregnancy in 1999.

The highest rate was in Iceland (42.3%), the lowest in Hungary (22.7%).

Availability

Denmark still topped the league for availability of assisted reproduction techniques there were 1,659 treatment cycles per million inhabitants in 1999.

In Finland the figure was 1,407, Iceland 1,383, Sweden 915 and France 882. By comparison, in the US there are approximately 250 cycles per million.

No figure was available for the UK.

Multiple embryos

The figures reveal that the controversial practice of using more than one embryo to maximise the chances of a successful pregnancy is not necessarily effective.

Countries that have the highest proportion of three or more embryos transferred in each cycle include the Ukraine (77.9%); Hungary (75.3%), Spain (75%), Ireland (69.8%) and Italy (57.8%).

Yet some of these countries had low pregnancy success rates.

The lowest rate of multiple embryo use was found in Sweden (4.5%) and Finland (5.4%).

However, both were among the countries with the highest pregnancy rates - Sweden's pregnancy rate per embryo transfer was 36%, while in Finland it was 29.6%.

Good news

Dr Anders Nyboe Anderson, of Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark, presented the figures to the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Vienna.

He said: "Our report shows some encouraging trends. In Europe as a whole, the average pregnancy rates per embryo transfer have increased to 27%, but the average numbers of multiple deliveries has decreased to 26%.

"There has been a trend towards a reduction in the numbers of embryos transferred in each cycle.

"This is good news. Overall, the report provides evidence that the quantity and quality of assisted reproduction technology in Europe is increasing."

Reports from the 2002 Eshre conference in Vienna

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31 Mar 99 | Medical notes
23 Oct 01 | England
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