HFEA welcomes MRC report on assisted reproduction

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) welcomes the report Assisted reproduction: a safe, sound future issued today by the Medical Research Council (MRC). The HFEA approached the MRC in 2002 to review the current knowledge of IVF and its possible health effects and provide advice on what further research is necessary.                                                      

We know that the biggest health risk from IVF is multiple births and there are also increased risks of a few very rare disorders, but the most comprehensive review of the impact of IVF on children born has shown no association between reproductive technologies and a child's overall health.

Prospective patients and parents of children conceived after infertility treatment will be reassured by this research, but clearly with something as important as children's health we need to do more work to fill in the gaps in knowledge and to search for any possible very long term effects. That is why the HFEA asked the MRC to look at all the available evidence and make recommendations.

Suzi Leather, Chair said:

"I welcome this report which suggests new ways in which IVF children's health may be followed up in the future. The HFEA will be advising government on changes to legislation which would allow the HFEA to support more long-term follow up and better high quality clinical trials. It is undoubtedly in the interests of families created through IVF but also of wider society that more research is done."

The report will go to the HFEA authority meeting for further discussion and recommendations.


Notes to editors

The HFEA was set up in August 1991 as part of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The HFEA's principal tasks are to license and monitor clinics that carry out in vitro fertilisation (IVF), donor insemination (DI) and human embryo research. The HFEA also regulates the storage of gametes (eggs and sperm) and embryos.

By law, the HFEA is not allowed to give out information which would identify people conceived through IVF.  This means that we are preventing from linking the HFEA register to other registers such as cancer registers.

Page last updated: 12 March 2009

Contact the press office

HFEA Press Officer
Tel: 020 7291 8226

Email: press.office@hfea.gov.uk

Out of hours urgent press contact: 07771 981 920 (for media enquiries only.)