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Fertility Policy Increases Risks

Media Release
26 January 2004

Fertility Policy Increases Risks

The Government’s funding policy for fertility treatment should be revised as a matter of urgency says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson, Barbara Stewart.

“The present policy is to fund one cycle of IVF, at a cost of about $10,000, for eligible couples,” said Mrs Stewart.

“This results in the implantation of multiple embryos to maximise the chance of success which in turn increases the likelihood of adverse results for the mother and babies.

“Many multiple births are premature and the babies are admitted to neonatal intensive care units.

“The head of Wellington Hospital’s neonatal ICU has said that about a third of the babies in his unit are from IVF treatments and that restricting the number of embryos implanted would save money by reducing pressure on the units.

“Care for a premature baby is expensive – about $80,000 for a baby born at 28 weeks compared with about $10,000 for an IVF cycle. Obviously if the Government funded two IVF cycles and restricted implantation to one embryo each time the chances of producing healthy babies would be better.

“It seems that the Government will spend $10,000 to provide one IVF cycle with the attendant risks of expensive multiple births rather than fund two cycles, restricting implantation to one embryo each time, and avoid the enormous expense of caring for premature infants.

“This sort of logic defies explanation. Even if the Government agreed to pay for two cycles for couples who agreed to the implantation of only one embryo at a time it would make better sense than the current arrangement with its potential for disasters,” said Mrs Stewart.


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