On the Agenda - US warns UK over IVF safety

In a nutshell

Couples seeking IVF treatment are to be warned about the risks of birth defects and life-threatening conditions. US research has found IVF babies could be up to 30 per cent more likely to suffer from certain health problems. Guidance from the Government's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), is to be updated in light of the research.

Why is this a story?

The warning comes as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act comes into law, and is likely to shape the decisions of the one in six infertile British couples. Patients will be able to access the HFEA's advice on its website from next month.

What did the study find?

The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found IVF babies suffered from higher rates of conditions such as heart valve defects and digestive abnormalities. The research, based on 13,500 births and a further 5,000 control cases, also found IVF babies have an increased chance of rare genetic disorders.

Media coverage

The story was broken by the Daily Mail on Saturday, which ran with the headline: 'IVF babies in new health alert.' The story was followed up by most of the national Sunday newspapers.

PR support

The story was handled by the HFEA's in-house press team. It was not press released, but the Daily Mail saw the report on the HFEA website and wrote up the story.

12,000 - babies were born in the UK in 2006 as a result of IVF

34,855 - women in the UK had IVF treatment in 2006.

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