F-2010-00207 - Births following vitrification

Summary of request

The Authority was asked for information about the number of children born in the UK from previously cryopreserved embryos and, of these, the number that were cryopreserved by (1) vitrification and (2) by slow freezing, as well as the number of licensed clinics in the UK that currently use each of these methods in their standard cryopreservation protocol.

HFEA response

Information about children born from previously cryopreserved embryos can be found in the anonymised register, published on the HFEA’s website (http://www.hfea.gov.uk/5874.html).  As this information is reasonably accessible via the HFEA website, it is exempt from disclosure under section 21 FOIA.

We are unable to provide information about the numbers of births resulting from embryos cryopreserved by each method because the Authority does not hold this information.  Although storing embryos is a licensable activity, the method of preparation is not separately licensable.  The HFEA has limited information about methods used in some centres but this does not allow the method used to be identified in each particular case and so support the breakdown of birth data requested. 

In October 2009, the Authority introduced revised licence renewal application forms, initial licence applications forms and revised forms for applications to change the activities for which the centre is licensed.  These forms collect certain information about the centre’s standard practice with regard to egg and embryo storage (including use of vitrification).  (This information was not collected in forms used prior to October 2009 and, to date, only a handful of centres have submitted information using the new forms.)  The information held by the Authority at 12 October 2010, shows that 9 out of the 13 currently licensed centres for which we have information via the clinic portal state that they currently use vitrification processes in embryo cryopreservation. 

Page last updated: 09 August 2012