Friday, July 3, 2009 - European patients travelling for fertility treatment | EU - European Information on Health and Lifestyle‏

1. European patients travelling for fertility treatment

The news comes in the wake of the adoption by the European Parliament of the Cross-border Healthcare Directive (EurActiv 1/4/09)

The Parliament agreed in March to back a new law which will allow patients to be treated in any European country and be reimbursed up to the full cost of the procedure in their home country. Critics of the proposal have warned that data on health tourism in Europe is currently limited.

Françoise Shenfield, from University College Hospital, London in the UK, said that this was the first hard evidence of considerable fertility patient migration within Europe. "Until now we have only had anecdotal evidence of this phenomenon," she said. "We think that our results will be of considerable value to patients, doctors and policymakers. Shenfield and colleagues surveyed patients at clinics in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland over a one-month period. She said the sample size was relatively small but the results implied that there were at least 20,000 to 25,000 cross-border treatment cycles per year in these countries.

2. Worldwide report shows an increase in assisted reproduction: an estimated 250,000 babies are born in one year

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is responsible for an estimated 219,000 to 246,000 babies born each year worldwide according to an international study. The study also finds that the number of ART procedures is growing steadily: in just two years (from 2000 to 2002) ART activity increased by more than 25%.
The study, which is published online today (Thursday 28 May) in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction [1], gives figures and estimates for the year 2002, the most recent year for which world figures are available. A total of 1563 clinics in 53 countries provided data for the report, but data were missing from several other countries, mostly in Asia, Africa, Oceania and the West Indies. The authors estimated that these missing countries probably performed between 10-20% of ART procedures, and they took this into account when they calculated the total number of ART babies born worldwide.
Professor Jacques de Mouzon, a specialist in public health at INSERM (Paris, France), led the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technology (ICMART) that compiled the report. He said: “This is the eighth world report on ART produced by ICMART since 1989, and is useful because, even if it is imperfect, it gives data that can inform debate and decision-making on issues such as availability and the benefits and risks of this important medical practice. It allows us to make comparisons between countries and regions, and to analyse trends by comparing with previous reports.

“However, there are wide variations between countries in the availability and quality of ART. There are several reasons for this, such as fertility rates, women’s age, insurance cover, the national economy, but the most important is certainly inequality in access to healthcare and ART. In Western Europe it is easier for people to access good healthcare, and funding for ART tends to be more generous than in developing countries. This raises the question of developing so called ‘low cost’ ART in low-income countries; it would probably mean lower success rates (the problem would be to define what rates would be acceptable), but greater access to treatment. In addition, treatment is usually more aggressive in developing countries and in all countries where ART is expensive for patients, leading to the consequent problems of multiple births, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and the need for foetal reductions.

3. New family connections are formed when parents of donor-conceived children seek out the donors and their other children.

Parents who have conceived children with the help of sperm or egg donors and then try to find the donors and also other children conceived with the donors’ help, often end up creating new forms of extended families, according to research published today (Tuesday 24 February).
The study in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction [1], found that parents set out to find their children’s donor and other donor siblings through feelings of curiosity and a desire to enhance their children’s sense of identity, and without expecting any very close contact. However, once they had identified the donor and their children’s donor siblings, they not only found the experiences of contacting and meeting the donor siblings very positive, but in many cases formed close and continuing bonds.
Dr Tabitha Freeman, a research associate at the Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge (UK), said: “Our most important finding is that the practice of donor conception is creating new family forms. These family forms are based on genetic links between families with children conceived by the same donor, as well as between donor-conceived children's families and their donors' families. Contrary to what might be expected, this research has found that contact between these new family forms can be a very positive experience for those involved. For example, one very striking finding is that family members in this sample formed close links based on notions of family and kinship; for example the mothers experienced maternal feelings towards their children’s donor siblings. “In addition, it is very interesting that this process is being driven by parents of donor conceived children who, whilst having conceived using anonymously donated sperm, regard it as important for their children to have access to information about their genetic relations.” Dr Freeman said the findings have wider implications for research and policy, particularly as an increasing number of countries have removed the right to donor anonymity.


the need for a father? said...

for how to get well for free, see the third paragraph of >

Anna said...

I am The editor/writer with I really liked your site and i am interested in building a relationship with your site. We want to spread public awareness. I hope you can help me out. Your site is a very useful resource.

Please email me back with your URl in subject line to take a step ahead and also to avoid spam.

Thank you,
Anna Huges