Multiple births through in vitro fertilization (IVF) is declining in Australia. But at the same the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is also increasing.
According to a report released 24 September by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2007, there were 56,817 treatment cycles in Australia and New Zealand in 2007; an increase of nearly 13 per cent since 2006 and of almost 54 per cent since 2003.
In total, 10,856 live born babies were born following ART treatment in 2007.
The multiple delivery rate fell to 10 per cent in 2007, down from 12 per cent in 2006, and 19 per cent in 2003.
'Importantly, this substantial decrease in multiple deliveries has been achieved while clinical pregnancy rates have remained stable (since 2002) at around 22 per cent per cycle,' according to Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan of the Institute's National Perinatal Statistics Unit.
'Just over 17 per cent resulted in the birth of at least one liveborn baby. This rate has also remained unchanged since 2002,' she said.
'The decline in multiple births corresponds with an improvement in overall pregnancy and baby outcomes because multiple births increase the health risk for both mothers and babies,' Associate Professor Sullivan said.
Professor Peter Illingworth, President of the Fertility Society of Australia said 'The fall in multiple deliveries is largely due to the increase in the proportion of single embryo transfer (SET) cycles, which increased from 32 per cent in 2003 to almost 64 per cent in 2007. `
Professor Illingworth said, 'The voluntary reduction in the number of embryos transferred during ART treatment has substantially reduced the incidence of multiple gestation pregnancies over the past five years, without compromising pregnancy rates.'
Australia and New Zealand have one of the highest rates of single embryo transfer in the world.