Malta’s IVF take-home baby rate increased last year

58 babies are expected to be born from IVF cycles carried out last year

Prospective parents can choose to have a baby by adopting a frozen embryo
Prospective parents can choose to have a baby by adopting a frozen embryo

The rate of babies born from in-vitro fertilisation increased last year, figures from the Embryo Protection Authority’s annual report show.

Babies born in 2018 accounted for 18.7% of all treatment cycles, an increase of almost two points in the take-home baby rate on 2017.

The figures cover IVF cycles that were done at the state Mater Dei Hospital and private clinics.
In 2018, there were 246 IVF cycles that resulted in 56 pregnancies, a rate of 22.8%. However, 4.1% of these pregnancies ended in a miscarriage.

There are currently 58 babies expected to be born from cycles started in 2018.

The annual report was presented to Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne on Thursday.

The full impact of the new IVF law approved last year, which allowed for the fertilisation of up to five eggs and embryo freezing, cannot be gauged since it only came into force in October.

Fearne said that the absolute majority of couples who performed IVF since October opted to fertilise five eggs. This is expected to improve the take-home baby rate and ensure less discomfort and risk for the prospective mother.

 “From the 34 couples who underwent IVF since October, 27 chose to utilise the new legal provisions that allow up to five eggs to be fertilised,” Fearne said.

Prior to the controversial legal changes approved last year, doctors could only fertilise two eggs and in exceptional cases, three. Embryo freezing was also outlawed, except in cases where embryos could not be transferred to the woman because of some accident or sickness.

The previous law was considered limiting by professionals in the field of assisted procreation and discriminatory by LGBTIQ campaigners since it disallowed gamete donation, effectively stopping the possibility of same-sex couples having recourse to IVF.

The new law changed all this but it made it through parliament not without controversy. The Opposition voted against the law, despite MPs being given a free vote on the matter and President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca signed the law under protest.