Five million IVF babies since 1978
FIVE million IVF babies have been born since assisted reproduction began in 1978, it has been calculated.
Experts based the estimate on worldwide figures for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment cycles up to 2008. The pattern was extended to gauge how many treatments took place over the next three years. It is believed to have reached five million last year.
Passing the five million milestone represented a moment of pride for fertility scientists, a British member of the team behind the first IVF baby said.
When Louise Brown was born on July 25, 1978, the birth of a “test tube baby”, as she was described in the media at the time, caused an ethical debate.
Experts said that IVF has since become routine. Dr Allan Pacey, chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: “I think it’s more than just older women relying on IVF. I think it’s more about accessibility, social acceptability, funding issues and, to an extent, that IVF is part of the mainstream now.”
Stuart Lavery, director of IVF at Hammersmith Hospital in London, said: “IVF is something couples are no longer ashamed of.”
The milestone figure was announced at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Turkey.
Dr Simon Fishel, of the clinic chain CARE Fertility UK and a member of the Cambridge team responsible for the birth of Louise, said: “The five million milestone not only justifies all the legal and moral battles, the ethical debates and hard-fought social approval, it is also a testament to the great scientists and doctors who have worked so hard to improve the treatment.”
Success rates from one IVF treatment cycle are at around 32 per cent per embryo transfer, the meeting heard.