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RCOG statement in response to the NGA report on twin pregnancy costs

News 4 September 2018

A new report, produced by the RCOG’s National Guideline Alliance, reveals that twin births are almost three times as expensive as singleton births. The findings show that the average cost to the NHS is £13,959 for a twin birth, while a singleton birth costs £4,892.

The multiple pregnancy rate has significantly increased since the introduction of IVF in 1978. Multiple pregnancy is the biggest risk associated with IVF, carrying a greater chance of miscarriage, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and the need for a caesarean birth.

The new report – which was collectively commissioned by the Multiple Births Foundation, British Fertility Society, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Fertility Network UK – calls on Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure single embryo transfer to reduce the multiple birth rate. This would reduce the health risks for mother and babies, improve the safety and quality of care, and lead to significant savings for the NHS.

Please attribute the following statement to Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG):

“We welcome this important analysis which demonstrates the considerable financial costs of multiple pregnancies in the UK. At almost three times the cost of a single pregnancy, the strain twin pregnancy places on women, families, the NHS and wider society can be immense, as can the emotional and psychological costs.

“Transfer of multiple embryos is often performed during IVF due to a perception that this will increase the chances of success. However, developments in IVF technology and practice have improved the live birth rate for single embryo transfer, allowing success rates to increase while lowering the multiple birth rate and associated complications. The multiple birth rate in the UK in 2016 had fallen to 11%; however, further action is needed to lower the rate even more to be in line with other countries such as Sweden, which achieved a multiple birth rate of 4.9% in 2011.

“The RCOG has been calling for government funding of three full IVF cycles – as recommended by national guidelines – since it is regarded to be the most important factor in maintaining low rates of multiple pregnancies following treatment and reduce associated complications for mothers and their babies. This would provide a greater incentive for IVF centres and their patients to adopt single embryo transfer more regularly. Reducing multiple pregnancies would significantly improve the health of mothers, their babies and families, take pressure off NHS services and contribute to national financial savings.”


Note to Editors

RCOG published a Scientific Impact Paper in February 2018 on multiple pregnancies following assisted conception.

Read the news story

Read the paper

Scientific Impact Papers advise on emerging or controversial scientific issues of relevance to obstetrics and gynaecology, together with the implications for future practice. 

Multiple pregnancy is also a major cause of miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death and disability, and increases a woman’s risk of developing preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, having a caesarean and haemorrhaging after birth.

RCOG has published information for women who are having more than one baby:

Nice guidelines