Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More than three million test-tube babies worldwide

Agence France-Presse

PRAGUE -- More than three million children have been born through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) since the birth 28 years ago of Louise Brown, the world's first "test tube" baby, a fertility conference here was told on Wednesday.
Europe leads the world in this treatment, initiating 56 percent of all cycles, or attempts, at pregnancy through IVF, said Jacques de Mouzon, of the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

De Mouzon, presenting figures for 2002 provided by 52 countries, said about one million IVF cycles are carried out per year, resulting in about 200,000 babies annually.

One in six couples worldwide experience some form of infertility problem, but there are huge variations in the availability of IVF and in its success rate, he noted.

"The average pregnancy rate for each cycle, using fresh embryos, was 25.1 percent and the delivery rate was 18.5 percent," said de Mouzon.

"However, these rates varied from 13.6 percent to 40.5 percent for pregnancy, and 9.1 percent to 37.1 percent for delivery," depending on the country, he said.

IVF is most available in Israel, where there were 3,260 cycles per million inhabitants in 2002, followed by Denmark, with 2,031 cycles per million. In Denmark and the Netherlands, more than one baby in 25 is born through IVF, the highest rate in the world.

Among those countries that contributed data, the region with the lowest IVF availability was Latin America, with less than 100 cycles per million.

The report added that improvements in IVF in some countries, especially in the Nordic region, meant that doctors there were now usually able to transfer a single embryo into the uterus rather than multiple embryos.

The conventional technique in IVF is to use multiple-embryo transfers, in the hope that at least one embryo will adhere to the womb wall and develop into a fetus.

But the risk is that twins or triplets may result. Multiple pregnancies carry significant risks that the babies will be born underweight and have development problems.

As for infertility, 20-30 percent of cases were linked to physiological causes in men; 20-35 percent to physiological causes in women; 25-40 percent are due to joint problem; and in 10-20 percent of cases, no cause is found.

As determined in previous research, infertility is also closely linked to smoking, obesity, stress and age.

The data was presented at the final day of a conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).

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