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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK
Watchdog issues IVF clinic guide
IVF is becoming more successful
Infertile couples can now search 'league tables' of fertility clinics
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has launched an online "league table" of fertility clinics.

The tables, which show services offered and success rates, have been published alongside a guide to infertility which details causes and treatment options.

The figures show that UK birth rates after IVF treatment are on the rise at 21.6% compared to 20.4% last year.

But the HFEA warned the rate of multiple births after IVF was still too high, at nearly one in four.

If you properly analyse the clinics there's very little difference between their success rates
Dr Allan Pacey, British Fertility Society

The figures also highlight that the success of IVF diminishes with age.

In women under the age of 35 years, the live birth rate after IVF is 28% but this falls to 3.2% in women over 42.

A regional breakdown shows that almost a third of all IVF is carried out in London.

Wales has the smallest rate of IVF with only 2.2% of all the UK's IVF treatment carried out in the country.

Couples who want to find out more about what is offered in their area can search by treatment offered, such as IVF or donor insemination and by services such as storage of eggs or sperm.

The accompanying guide gives information on different types of fertility problems, where to turn for help and NHS funding as well as detailing all the potential treatment options.

Search facility

Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the HFEA, said: "One in seven couples across the UK, roughly 3.5 million people, have trouble conceiving and we know that when people start to experience fertility problems they eagerly search out all the information they can on the subject.

IVF SUCCESS RATES
TOP FIVE:
Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre, London - 53.8%
The Woking Nuffield hospital - 44.5%
UCH London - 42.3%
Centre for Reproductive Medicine, University of Bristol - 38.1%
Essex Fertility Centre, Buckhurst Hill - 37.3%
BOTTOM FIVE:
Cardiff Assisted Reproduction Unit - 17.1%
Cromwell IVF and Fertility Centre London - 16.3%
Winterbourne Hospital, Dorchester - 15.7%
Leicester Fertility Centre - 15.5%
Cromwell IVF and Fertility Centre, Darlington -10.7%
Figures show Live Birth Rate per cycle of IVF or ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) for women aged under 35 using their own eggs

"We have developed a powerful interactive internet search facility to ensure people get information about clinics tailored to their individual circumstances rather than generalisations which could, at worst, be misleading.

"With patients telling us that they typically put aside between 4,000 and 8,000 for each IVF attempt, this guide enables them to make better informed choices about how and where they seek treatment."

Angela McNab, Chief Executive of the HFEA, added: "We are pleased to see that overall live birth rates have improved from last year's Guide to Infertility across all age groups.

"However we are still concerned about the levels of twin and triplet pregnancies, which provide the single biggest risk to mothers and their children from IVF treatment.

"Multiple births risk endanger the health of both mother and the children they are carrying and can lead to problems which can last a child's lifetime."

Speaking in advance of next week's National Infertility Day, Clare Brown, chief executive of Infertility Network said UK success rates still lagged behind other countries in Europe.

"Any improvement is fantastic but it still means over 70% of couples are failing.

"Patients deserve as much information as possible to help them make an informed decision and they should also get involved with support groups and speak to others who are going through the same thing."

MULTIPLE BIRTH RISKS
Mortality:
4 times greater with twins
7 times greater with triplets
Cerebral palsy:
5 times greater with twins
18 times greater with triplets
Source: HFEA

Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer at Sheffield University and secretary of the British Fertility Society said the information on fertility clinics was a good idea, but warned couples not to judge them by success rate.

"If you properly analyse the clinics there's very little difference between their success rates.

"People need to look at is what services they provide and they should also consult brochures and attend open evenings - it's such a stressful thing patients need to feel confident."

He added that IVF wouldn't work for everybody and urged women to plan a family as early as possible.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Listen to the concerns of the HFEA over multiple births



SEE ALSO:
NHS trusts in IVF refusal U-turn
13 Jan 06 |  Hampshire
NHS to offer one free IVF cycle
25 Feb 04 |  Health


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