A new report published today by the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has found that people from ethnic minority backgrounds undergoing fertility treatment are less likely to have a baby, with Black patients having the lowest chances of successful treatment.
Data showed that while overall birth rates from fertility treatment have increased and are highest in patients under 35, Black patients aged 30-34 have an average birth rate of 23%, compared to 30% for Mixed and white people.
It also found that Black patients are starting IVF treatment almost two years later (36.4 years old) compared to the average person at 34.6 years old.
Commenting on the research, Dr Christine Ekechi, Co-Chair of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Race Equality Taskforce, said:
“It is disappointing but not surprising to see healthcare inequalities for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women extend to every corner of their lives including sadly, for those who desire to have a baby.
"When tackling racial inequalities in health outcomes for women, it is important to acknowledge that for some women, these poorer outcomes affect them throughout their life course, limiting the available choices that others often take for granted.
“We cannot underestimate the negative impact of infertility and reduced outcomes following fertility treatment, on Black, Asian and minority ethnic women. We know that infertility can have a devastating effect on people's lives, causing distress, depression, and the breakdown of relationships. It is therefore essential that we begin to understand the factors contributing to these poorer outcomes in this particular group of women.
“This HFEA report is vital in understanding the barriers faced by women from ethnic minority backgrounds when trying to start a family and we welcome its publication. What is now required is a combined effort to provide solutions to include better awareness, safeguarding of reproductive health and improving the availability of targeted options for fertility treatments.
"We owe it to Black, Asian and minority ethnic women to give them an equal opportunity to starting a family, and to provide the solutions that will help them achieve this dream."
Notes to Editors
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The HFEA's report Ethnic diversity in fertility treatment can be read here.