Percentage of Babies Born Through IVF Rises to New High

According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology’s (SART) recently released annual report on assisted reproductive technology, births as a result of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) have hit an all-time high. The report uses data from 2012 to highlight the growing popularity of IVF as a means of reproduction and other positive trends related to the IVF process. The report follows other international studies that made discoveries with regard to IVF, both positive and negative.

SART Report

The SART report found that of the 3.9 million babies born in the U.S. in 2012, 1.5 percent of those were conceived using IVF. Specifically, the 379 SART member clinics reported conducting 165,172 IVF procedures that year. Those procedures resulted in the birth of 61,740 IVF babies in 2012, which is 2000 more births through IVF than were reported in 2011.

The study also analyzed other IVF statistics, which highlight that, overall, less embryos were transferred per cycle, or per each IVF procedure, in 2012. The results  revealed an increase in that year of single embryo transfer, which is an elective IVF process that uses only one embryo out of a larger selection of available embryos. The single embryo is then placed in the uterus or fallopian tubes to potentially implant. According to the SART report these single embryo trends have, in turn, resulted in reduced numbers of multiple births, which are known to have a higher risk of complication.

CDC and SART Data

The CDC describes assisted reproductive technology (ART) as any fertility treatment in which both sperm and egg are handled. Since 1992 the CDC published annual ART success rates as well as other research and resources on IVF and other ART. The ART Surveillance Summary is published in conjunction with and as a supplement to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The CDC works in conjunction with SART to “strengthen existing data collection efforts.” SART is an organization made up of IVF professionals and includes more that 90 percent of clinics involved in AST in the country.

Other Studies

The SART report was published shortly after an Australian study was released that made findings based on individuals that were born via IVF procedure and are now young adults. The analysis, entitled “Comparing indicators of health and development of singleton young adults conceived with and without assisted reproductive technology,” found that the young adults that were single-birth IVF babies enjoyed the same quality of life as their non-IVF peers. The study was conducted by surveying mothers with regard to their child’s hospitalizations and chronic conditions over the first 18 years of the child’s life and asking the young adult children about their own “perceived quality of life, body mass index, pubertal development, and educational achievement.” An Australian news source reported the study failed to find any connection between ART and attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity but also stated that the study’s authors indicated more research was needed to fully discover if any connections between ART and asthma exist. The author noted that additional studies that did not rely on self-reporting are planned for the future.

Another recent study seems to suggest that IVF is not as comparable to natural birth in terms of risks as the Australian report might imply and that the growing popularity of IVF is not necessarily a positive trend. The British Medical Journal released the report, “Are we overusing IVF?” in late January of 2014. The study’s authors argued that IVF was not necessarily created for widespread use in “mild male subfertility, endometriosis, and unexplained sub-fertility,” as it often is employed. Instead, according to the authors, IVF was designed and perhaps is better off as strictly utilized “for women with fallopian tube disorders and [in cases of] severe male infertility,” because the risks can outweigh the benefits in many circumstances.