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Five million births from IVF: study published

21 October 2013

By Suzanne Elvidge

Appeared in BioNews 727

Since the birth of Louise Brown in July 1978, five million babies have been born with the help of IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

At least one-third of these children were conceived in the last six years, according to a report compiled by the International Committee for the Monitoring of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ICMART).

The number of children conceived using IVF, surrogacy and egg donation and freezing climbed from around 90,000 in the 1990s to an estimated 2.5 million in 2007. Since then, an additional 1.5 million births have resulted from ART.

'The number of babies born through ART is now about the same as the population of a US state such as Colorado, or a country such as Lebanon or Ireland', said Dr Richard Kennedy, secretary general of the International Federation of Fertility Societies. 'This is a great medical success story'.

The increase is thought to be based on a range of factors, including reduction in stigma and improvements in success rates. The rising birth rates are also in part due to better access to technologies in developing countries, and improved reimbursement or insurance coverage.

The figure was calculated using data on ART from 74 countries. However, the researchers had to account for missing years and make approximations for other countries who had not published any data. This includes China, where an estimated 900,000 babies have been born using assisted conception.

'There is so much missing data, which is the reason this hasn’t been done until now', Dr David Adamson, who conducted the research, told USA Today. 'The reality is no one will ever know exactly how many babies have been born because no one ever counted'.

Initial results from this research were published in July 2012 (as reported in BioNews 663). The final report was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual conference and appeared in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

NBC News | 14 October 2013
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (press release) | 14 October 2013
USA Today | 15 October 2013
Fertility and Sterility | 14 October 2013


09 July 2013 - by Siobhan Chan 
Children born as a result of assisted reproduction do not have a higher risk of developing cancer during childhood than those conceived spontaneously, according to a large UK study...
08 July 2013 - by Dr Katie Howe 
Children born following IVF have no increased risk of autism but may be at a very small increased risk of intellectual disability, a Swedish study suggests. However, the researchers stress that the overall likelihood of children conceived via IVF having an intellectual impairment remains extremely low...
08 July 2013 - by Siobhan Chan 
A 'powerful' form of genome analysis could improve embryo selection for IVF, according to scientists who report that the first baby has been born from this method...
02 July 2012 - by Suzanne Elvidge 
A study estimates that five million people worldwide have been born thanks to assisted reproductive technologies...

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