IVF treatment causing a huge rise in twin births
IRELAND'S twin birth rate has increased dramatically due to an rise in IVF treatment.
Over 1,200 mums have delivered twins each year since 2009. Before 2000, the figure hadn't topped 200.
Medics have attributed the increase to the rising interest in IVF treatment and to older mums.
In 2014, the average age of mothers in Ireland was 32.2 years - which is one of the oldest worldwide. Studies have shown that twin pregnancies increase significantly with maternal age.
Twins currently account for 10-20pc of all babies born through IVF.
However, the Government will soon consider legislation which could include a ban on the use of multiple-embryo transfers in fertility treatment.
This could ultimately lead to a reductioin in the number of twins born in the future.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar will bring forward legislation governing a number of aspects of assisted human reproduction following the Supreme Court ruling last November in which a birth mother of twins born by surrogacy was deemed to be their legal mother.
The Minister is reportedly considering the aspects surrounding multiple embryo transfers.
The Sims Clinic in Dublin, which carries out approximately 1,400 IVF and egg donation cycles each year, said that it would have concerns about any ban on multiple embryo transfers.
Clinical director David Walsh said that older women in particular would be affected by any rule change.
"For younger women it is very sensible to have a single embryo transfer policy as they have time to have more children," he said.
"But it will penalise older women."
Mr Walsh added that 3pc of all births in Ireland arise out of fertility treatment.
He said that ultimately it will see the number of Irish women travelling overseas for fertility treatment.
Currently, an estimated 50pc of the women receiving IVF treatment travel to clinics overseas. The Irish Multiple Births Association said they have noticed a rise in the number of enquiries for membership.
Rachael Joyce, of the association, said that she has noticed a jump in membership numbers from 800 to 1,800 in the space of just a few years.
"Most are seeking advice and support because of having two or more children at the same time," she said in an interview in The Sunday Times.