Professor Allan Templeton of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen said that women should not receive more than one or two eggs when undergoing fertility treatment because of the detrimental effect of producing twins or triplets.
Government figures show that there were 9,201 multiple births in 1997 with 302 sets of triplets or quads. Each set of triplets costs the NHS up to pounds 100,000. Multiple birth babies are more likely to die in their early years and are at a greater risk of having physical and mental health problems.
"Transferring more than two embryos does not improve the chances of becoming pregnant but doubles the risk of having a multiple birth," said Professor Templeton. "What is important is the number of embryos available for transfer and not the number actually transferred. If we cut the number of eggs transferred from three to two, a third of multiple births would be preventable."