Rapid Increase Seen in Assisted Reproduction

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The number of assisted reproduction cycles performed worldwide jumped 25.6% from 2000 to 2002, according to an international report.

... Between 219,000 and 246,000 babies were born through assisted reproductive technology (ART) in 2002 -- an estimated 12% increase over the same two-year period ...

Frozen embryo transfers increased 47% between 2000 and 2002, twice as fast as the increase in egg aspiration cycles.

... The researchers noted that these increases reflected growth in the number of countries and centers reporting, as well as true growth in assisted reproduction activity.

... Worldwide, the 601,243 initiated cycles resulted in a delivery rate of 22.4% per aspiration for conventional in vitro fertilization, 21.2% per intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and 15.3% per frozen embryo transfer.

Overall, frozen embryo transfers represented 21.7% of the aspirations, up from 14.4% in 2000.

There was substantial variation in overall assisted reproductive technology by nation, ranging from a low of two cycles per 1 million inhabitants in Ecuador to 3,688 per million in Israel.

Overall, the number of transferred embryos dropped, with particularly low numbers in Europe and Australia.

... The percentage of transfers with four or more embryos decreased from 15.4% to 13.7% in fresh cycles. The proportion of single embryo, fresh transfers increased from 10.5% to 12.4%. The proportions of twin pregnancies fell from 26.5% to 25.7%. The proportion of triplet pregnancies decreased from 2.9% to 2.5%. There was similar reduction in multiple pregnancies for frozen embryo transfers.

... In the report, multiple pregnancies were associated with a higher rate of premature birth ... For example, 94.2% of triplets were born prematurely, compared to 13.5% for singletons. Likewise, the perinatal mortality rate was 71.2 per 1,000 babies among triplets, compared to 10.7 among singletons.

Dr. de Mouzon's group also reported a notable increase in intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which accounted for 56.6% of fertilization procedures in 2002 compared with 47.6% in 2000. The rates were particularly high in Latin America (75.9%) and the Middle East (92.4%).

"Since there is no reason to believe that there is such an increase in male infertility, the reasons behind this trend are difficult to know, since [it] has not been demonstrated to improve results for non-male infertility treatment," ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448