Making in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) safer

Reducing the risk of complications associated with multiple pregnancy

Multiple births following in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment leads to serious health risks in the mother and offspring. It is caused by placing multiple embryos within the uterus. However concerns about reduced success rates had deterred patients and practitioners from transplanting a single embryo.

A programme of research led from the University of Aberdeen on single embryo transfer in IVF established that a policy of placing one embryo at a time minimises the risk of twins without compromising live birth rates. This work has received international media coverage, influenced clinical guidance and resulted in an increased uptake of single embryo transfer in the United Kingdom and beyond.

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Key publications

  • Porter M, Bhattacharya S. Investigation of staff and patients’ opinions of a proposed trial of elective single embryo transfer. Human Reproduction (2005); 20(9): 2523 - 2530.
  • Pandian Z, Bhattacharya S, Ozturk O, Serour GI, Templeton A. Number of embryos for transfer following in-vitro fertilisation or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004 Oct 18;(4):CD003416.
  • Pandian Z, Templeton A, Serour G, Bhattacharya, S. Number of embryos for transfer after in-vitro fertilisation and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection: a systematic review. Human Reproduction (2005); 20 910): 2681 - 2687.
  • McLernon DJ, Harrild K, Bergh C, Davies MJ, de Neubourg D, Dumoulin JCM, Gerris J, Kremer JAM, Martikainen H, Mol BW, Norman RJ, Thurin-Kjellberg A, Tiitinen A, van Montfoort APA, van Peperstraten AM, van Royen E, Bhattacharya S. Clinical effectiveness of elective single versus double embryo transfer: meta-analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials. BMJ. 2010;341:c6945.
  • Scotland G, McLernon D, Kurinczuk J, McNamee P, Harrild K, Lyall H, Rajkhowa M, Hamilton M, Bhattacharya S. Minimising twins in in-vitro fertilisation: a modelling study assessing the costs, consequences and cost-utility of elective single versus double embryo transfer over a 20-year time horizon. BJOG. 2011; 118(9):1073-1083.
  • Maheshwari A, Griffiths S, Bhattacharya S. Global variations in the update of single embryo transfer. Human Reproduction Update. 2010; 17(1):107-120.