Fertility treatment in the UK is more successful and safer than ever before, according to a report from the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority).
IVF is now 85 percent more likely to succeed than when records first began in 1991, said the regulator. Over 20,000 babies were born in 2016 as a result of more than 68,000 IVF treatments, an increase of four percent from 2015. The HFEA's new report covers fertility treatment trends and success rates for the 2014-2016 period.
'Assisted reproduction has come a long way in the 40 years since British doctors pioneered IVF with the birth of Louise Brown,' said Sally Cheshire, chair of the HFEA. 'With well over a million treatments performed in the UK since records began, and more than 300,000 babies born, as a country we remain at the forefront of fertility treatment.'
She added that the report was 'the most extensive we've ever produced'.
The report found that the average birth rate for women of all ages undergoing fertility treatment was 21 percent, with this increasing to 29 percent for women under 35. A total of 42 percent of all women undergoing IVF treatment in 2016 were under 35.
Births from fertility treatments are also safer, said the report, with far fewer multiple births than ever before. This has fallen from around one in every four, or 28 percent, of IVF births in 2008 to 11 percent in 2016.
The report also noted that fertility treatment 'has become available to a wider range of people'. While the majority of patients receiving IVF treatment in 2016 were heterosexual couples (95.3 percent), since 2014 there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of IVF treatments for patients with a female partner (to 2.5 percent), and a 35 percent increase in the number of treatments with no partner (1.9 percent).
For the first time ever, the report also details the number of surrogacy treatments in 2016. There were 232 surrogate cycles and 79 births in 2016.
'We welcome the fact that the HFEA has, for the first time, included data on surrogacy in its report,' said Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust (which publishes BioNews). 'At a time when Parliament is working to permit surrogacy for single people and when the Law Commission is reviewing surrogacy law more broadly, it is increasingly important to have access to reliable data about this field.'