Study highlights dangers of IVF treatment overseas

A global survey of fertility treatment covering more than 100 countries has revealed wide variations in international laws governing IVF which are fuelling the growth of "fertility tourism".

At least 10,000 people go abroad each year to seek help to have a baby because the laws are too restrictive in their home country or the cost of treatment is too high. No other field of medicine is subject to such wide differences in clinical practice, which are driven by social and religious attitudes rather than scientific evidence. Experts at the World Congress on Fertility in Munich will today announce a code of practice on cross-border care, to be published by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology and the International Federation of Fertility Societies later this year. Professor Ian Cooke, education director of IFFS, said: "What is considered acceptable varies from country to country. How carefully do they screen donors? How do they screen for multiple pregnancies. Do you want to come back with quadruplet? That's madness." Both international organisations support the right of patients to go abroad. But they call for the harmonisation of national standards to increase safety.

From the UK, the chief reason for patients travelling is the shortage of egg donors, with waiting lists up to two years in some clinics. Favoured destinations are Spain and the Czech Republic where egg donors are paid €900 and €800 respectively. In Britain, regulations limit clinics to paying a maximum of £250 in compensation for lost earnings to egg donors.

Sperm donors are also in short supply in the UK, since donor anonymity was ended in 2005. Some couples travel abroad to obtain anonymous sperm.

Cost is also a factor, with an average price of more than £3,000 per cycle of IVF treatment in London. "It may well be cheaper to go to Barcelona or Prague and have a cycle of treatment there," Professor Cooke said.

Francoise Shenfield, co-ordinator of the ESHRE committee on cross-border reproductive care, said multiple pregnancy posed the biggest threat to patients. The UK restricts clinics to replacing at most two embryos in women up to the age of 40, but other countries allow up to four. Evidence shows multiple pregnancies carry higher risks for mother and babies.

"There is a striking difference between patients who had been abroad and those treated at home in terms of multiple pregnancies. Every clinic should have a strategy to reduce them," Dr Shenfield said.

Clinics wanted to improve their success rates and couples wanted an instant family. Cost savings were also a consideration. But the risk of prematurity and handicap increased in multiple pregnancies.

The global survey revealed the rapid expansion of fertility treatment around the world with over 500 clinics in India and more than 600 in Japan. In two- thirds of countries the practice is controlled by law or professional regulation but in a third it is uncontrolled.

In Catholic countries such as Spain, Italy and Poland, manipulation of embryos or experimentation on them is outlawed because of strict rules identifying the start of personhood with the moment of conception.

The donation of eggs and sperm is banned in Islamic countries. In Iceland, stored sperm must be destroyed when the donor dies. One third of countries ban surrogacy and this can create legal problems for couples who travel to a country where it is permitted and then return home with the child.

IVF laws: How fertility is controlled around the world

Germany

Freezing of embryos banned. Couples must produce fresh embryos for a second attempt with IVF.



France

Lesbians are not allowed access to donor sperm. In Norway, homosexuals can be accepted for infertility treatment.



Italy

a requirement that all embryos produced for IVF must be replaced in the womb was reversed earlier this year following a legal challenge that it was not best medical practice. Doctors in other countries select only the best embryos for replacement to increase the chances of success.



New Zealand

The requirement to consider the welfare of the child no longer means it must be raised in a nuclear family. The Maori idea of the family includes the practice of guardianship.



South Africa

bans surrogacy for non-residents. UK couples looking for a woman to carry their baby will be disappointed in this country.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    BI Manager - £50,000

    £49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

    £48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game