The use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is increasing, with the number of multiple births resulting from ART decreasing, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
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% in 2003 to almost 64% in 2007.
'Importantly, this substantial decrease in multiple deliveries has been achieved while clinical pregnancy rates have remained stable (since 2002) at around 22% per cycle,' according to Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan of the Institute's National Perinatal Statistics Unit.
'Just over 17% resulted in the birth of at least one liveborn baby. This rate has also remained unchanged since 2002,' she said.
According to the report, 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% since 2006 and of almost 54% since 2003.
In total, 10,856 liveborn babies were born following ART treatment in 2007.
The multiple delivery rate fell to 10% in 2007, down from 12% in 2006, and 19% in 2003.
'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 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.