Bristol IVF consultant accused of 'scaremongering'

media captionDr Kalra was filmed making the claims at an information evening

An IVF consultant has been accused of "scaremongering" about the safety of conventional fertility treatment.

Create Fertility in Bristol specialises in a form of IVF that it says involves significantly lower doses of drugs than the traditional method.

A consultant at the clinic falsely claimed women were dying in the UK each year because of a syndrome that can be caused by high doses of IVF drugs.

However, data seen by the BBC shows no such deaths in the past three years.

Private company Create Fertility says "mild" IVF is "kinder and safer" for the body and "reduces the risks and side effects" associated with high stimulation IVF.

A small number of women undergoing traditional IVF treatment will develop a severe form of a medical condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

Instead of producing a few eggs as desired, the ovaries go into overdrive and over-produce in response to the potent fertility drugs.

image captionCreate Fertility in Bristol specialises in "mild or natural" IVF

While most women with OHSS will have mild symptoms and recover, severe cases can be life-threatening.

During an information evening, Dr Gurpreet Kalra, a senior consultant at Create, told an audience that "about three women die in this country every year potentially because of IVF".

The consultant later told an undercover reporter from BBC Inside Out West that more than one in every 100,000 pregnant women will die from OHSS in the country.

Professor Enda McVeigh, a leading specialist in fertility treatment, said: "This sort of scaremongering that might go on is really quite sad.

"There has not been three people die from OHSS or IVF last year or the year before, or the year before that. It is just not correct."

'Potential serious risks'

Data from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) seen by the BBC shows no recorded OHSS-related deaths in the UK in the past three years.

In a statement, Dr Kalra said he could not recall making the claim about the number of OHSS deaths.

He said: "If I did in any way make any mis-statements, that would have been wholly inadvertent.

"I have never intended to misrepresent the facts and nor do I say anything with the intention of scaremongering. I have a duty to inform women about potential serious risks of stimulation in IVF."

Create said it did not allow staff to give inaccurate statistics, and believed OHSS was under-reported.

BBC Inside Out West's report can be seen on BBC One in the West at 19:30 GMT on Monday 29 October, and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

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