Five years (2004-2009) of a restrictive law-regulating ART in Italy significantly reduced delivery rate: analysis of 10,706 cycles.

Human Reproduction

PubMedID: 23175501

Levi Setti PE, Albani E, Matteo M, Morenghi E, Zannoni E, Baggiani AM, Arfuso V, Patrizio P. Five years (2004-2009) of a restrictive law-regulating ART in Italy significantly reduced delivery rate: analysis of 10,706 cycles. Hum Reprod. 2013;28(2):343-9.
STUDY QUESTION
Was the delivery rate of ART cycles negatively affected by the enactment of the Law 40/2004 by the Italian Parliament which imposed a long list of restrictions for ART procedures?

SUMMARY ANSWER
This large and extensive comparative analysis of ART outcomes prior to and after the introduction of the Law 40 revealed a significant reduction in pregnancy and delivery rates per cycle, independent of age or other clinical variables, once the law went into effect.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY
Several studies have been published on the effect of Law 40/2004 on ART outcomes, some authors demonstrating a negative impact of the Law in relation to specific etiologies of infertility, other authors showing opposite conclusions.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION
Retrospective clinical study of 3808 patients treated prior to the enactment of the Law, September 1996-March 2004 (Group I) and 6898 treated during the Law, March 2004-May 2009 (Group II).

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS
A total of 10 706 ART cycles were analysed, 3808 performed before and 6898 after the application of the Law. An intention-to-treat statistical analysis was performed to detect pregnancy and delivery rates (pregnancies = 24 weeks) per started cycle. A P value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant. We analysed different outcomes: differences in fertilization, pregnancy and delivery rate, multiple pregnancies and miscarriage rates between the two time periods.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE
The delivery rate for started cycle was 20% before and 16.0% after the introduction of the Law representing a 25% reduction (P < 0.001). The multivariate analysis, corrected by female age of >38 years, duration of infertility, basal FSH level and number of retrieved oocytes, showed a 16% lower delivery rate (odds ratio: 0.84; confidence interval: 0.75-0.94). This statistical approach removed the risk that the observed effects were due to chance and confirmed unequivocally that the Law was an independent factor responsible for the reduced likelihood of a successful outcome.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION
This is a retrospective study. A prospective randomized study, with patients treated in the same time period and randomized to restrictions or not, would have minimized potential limitations due to differences in years of treatments.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS
Our findings based on the analysis of such a large number of cycles proved clearly and unequivocally that imposing restrictions on the practice of ART penalized patients. These data represent a relevant clinical contribution for countries still debating the enactment of restrictive limitations of ART.