Journal of Biosocial Science

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M. MURPHY a1, K. HEY a2, J. BROWN a2, B. WILLIS a3, J. D. ELLIS a4 and D. BARLOW a5
a1 Unit of Health Care Epidemiology, University of Oxford, Oxford and ICRF General Practice Research Group, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford
a2 Anglia and Oxford Regional Health Authority, Headington, Oxford
a3 Maternity Unit, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, and Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading
a4 Maternity Unit, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford
a5 Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford


Trends in multiple birth rates are thought to have been substantially affected by subfertility treatments in the last 25 years, but there are few quantitative assessments of this. This paper examines trends in twin and higher multiple birth rates separately in Scotland, England and Wales and compares their course with corresponding multiple birth rates in the Oxford Record Linkage Study area, where the proportions following subfertility treatment are documented. National data on prescriptions for subfertility treatments reinforce the view that they have had a major effect on the trends, and currently perhaps 60% of triplet and higher order births and 15% of twins follow their use in Britain.