Over 400 babies born from IVF cycles since 2013

Almost 250 babies were born from cycles at Mater Dei Hospital

404 babies were born from IVF cycles since 2013, according to data from the Health Ministry.

Minister Chris Fearne tabled the information in parliament on Monday in response to a parliamentary question from MP Michael Farrugia.

From the 400 babies born, 249 were born from cycles at Mater Dei Hospital.

The remaining 155 babies were born from private tissue establishment cycles at St James Hospital.

14 other babies are expected to be born from Mater Dei Hospital for cycles done in 2021.

Meanwhile, six babies are expected to be born from IVF cycles carried out to date for 2022. These include three babies from Mater Dei Hospital, and another three from the newly-licensed HOPE Fertility Clinic.

MaltaToday IVF investigation

A MaltaToday investigative report revealed that Malta’s IVF pregnancy rate is considerably below the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)’s average pregnancy rate, which was 39% across Europe in 2017.

From 2016 to 2020, the local pregnancy rate dipped from 25% to 17%, without excluding miscarriages in the first weeks of the pregnancy.

More worryingly, Maltese IVF patients appear to face a high risk of OHSS. This is a common complication in the female body when there is an exaggerated response to the excess hormones injected, as required to stimulate the development of eggs in the ovaries. This causes the ovaries to swell and become painful.

The government-financed fertility service at Mater Dei Hospital is a public-private partnership operated by Cherubino. The company’s €1.57 million government concession expired two years ago, but Cherubino has been allowed to retain the concession without any formal contract extension or renewal.

Cherubino’s fees are charged across each step of the IVF service: a standard service fee of €1,900, then €800 to freeze the surplus eggs, an additional €1,500 for each embryo frozen, again €1,500 to thaw the frozen embryos, and €900 to transfer them.

When the risk of OHSS interrups a fresh transfer of embryos, the cost climbs to €1,900 for service provision and €800 for the freezing of surplus eggs.