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
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
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
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.