Changes have been made to artificial reproduction regulations to limit the number of embryos implanted during in vitro fertilization, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said.
They reduce the chance of multiple pregnancies that pose a great risk for preterm labor.
While the Artificial Reproduction Act (人工生殖法) promulgated in 2007 allows at most four embryos to be implanted at a time, the global trend has gradually been to implant just one or two embryos, the administration said.
A 2011 national survey conducted by the agency showed that out of those who had undertaken in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the country, only 31.7 percent had restricted the number of embryos implanted to one or two, a percentage that paled in comparison with Europe’s 75.6 percent.
The HPA stressed that although the rate of multiple births among women who have undergone IVF has decreased to 51.6 percent in 2011 from 55.7 percent in 2007, IVF-induced live multiple births account for 33.3 percent of all live multiple births in the nation in 2011, rising from 2007’s 28.3 percent.
Of the IVF-induced multiple pregnancies, 68.3 percent result in babies born prematurely, a preterm birth rate that is 4.9 times greater than that among IVF single-birth pregnancies, it added.
IVF multiple births are also associated with a greater risk for low birth weight, with five of every six multiple births experiencing the problem, a risk that is seven times greater than that encountered by IVF single births.
Babies from multiple pregnancies are at greater risk for premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects and even death.
The administration cautioned that multiple pregnancies pose more medical dangers to mothers as well, who are at risk of complications including anemia, hypertension, antepartum and postpartum hemorrhage, sepsis, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
In view of the health dangers and in reference to the global trend, the health promotion authority said it has made amendments to the Regulations for Artificial Reproduction Institution Permit (人工生殖機構許可辦法) to encourage implantation of no more than two embryos at a time for women under the age of 35.
The agency said the change would decrease the rate of multiple embryo implantations and estimated that it could reduce the number of babies suffering low birth weight by 300 and lower the chance of pregnant women experiencing possible birth-related complications.