assisted reproductive technology, infertility, in vitro fertilization, multiple gestation morbidity/mortality



  1. Armour, Kim L. MSN, CNP, APN, RDMS
  2. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN


In the United States and throughout the world, today's healthcare providers are challenged by the risks of multiple gestation pregnancy. Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) often used to treat infertility raise ethical issues including informed consent, veracity, and nonmalificence. In the United States, there is the need to improve maternal and fetal/neonatal mortality and morbidity by proposing legislation regulating ART and supporting single embryo transfers with no more than 2 such transfers. Beginning with the diagnosis of infertility, providers have a responsibility to educate, inform, and treat infertile couples. From the moment pregnancy with multiples is confirmed, these families are faced with incredible stressors including decision making on multifetal or selective reduction. Full disclosure of risks involved throughout the course of care should be discussed and documented in the record and plan of care. Currently in the United States, legislation does not regulate ART, including ovulation induction/enhancement and in vitro fertilization. Although the Untied States does have self-regulation via limited reporting through their professional organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an unlimited number of embryos may be transferred. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers have not recognized the responsibility and burden placed on families and society as a whole. Lack of regulation means women may become pregnant with high order multiples, which raises serious moral and ethical issues.