Research conducted recently on assisted reproduction in Italy indicates that the number of couples seeking treatment has dropped since a new law came into effect on 10 March 2004. According to the survey, which covered ten of the largest private and public centres in Italy specialising in assisted reproduction, 20 per cent fewer couples are seeking treatment. The research was published in the magazine Human Reproduction.

One of the clauses in the stringent law restricts the implanting of more than three fertilised embryos at any one attempt. The survey shows that there has been a fall in the success rate, particularly in women aged between 35 and 38. Prior to the introduction of the law, 25 to 30 out of 100 women in this age group undergoing treatment became pregnant. Since the new legislation, the number has dropped to 20 to 25 out of 100.

A popular referendum on the assisted-reproduction law should take place in the early summer. Meanwhile many couples who would like to receive treatment are waiting in the hope that the law will be voted down.