The number of babies born through assisted reproduction technologies, such as in-vitro fertilization, has exceeded the 5 million mark, according to a new report.
Since the world's first baby born through such technologies – Louise Brown – arrived in July 1978, the number of children born through IVF and other techniques has exploded, according to the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART).
The findings, presented this week at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Instanbul, were based on the number of treatment cycles recorded worldwide through 2008, plus estimates for the following three years.
The total of number births was put at 4.6 million last year, and this year reached an approximate total of 5 million.
"It means that this technology has been highly successful in treating infertile patients,” said Dr. David Adamson, from Fertility Physicians of Northern California chairman of ICMART. “Millions of families with children have been created, thereby reducing the burden of infertility.”
He added that technology improvements since 1978 have increased pregnancy rates and reduced health risks, to the point that IVF babies are as healthy as those conceived naturally.
Other findings of the ICMART report:
• About 1.5 million fertility cycles are now performed globally each year;
• Some 350,000 babies are born annually through such techniques; and
• The biggest users of the technologies are the U.S. and Japan, with Europe the most active region.