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Five million test tube children, conference told

Monday July 2nd, 2012

About five million children have owed their lives to assisted reproduction techniques, it was announced yesterday.

The figures were unveiled at a European conference held in Istanbul, Turkey.

The first "test-tube" baby was Louise Brown, born in England in 1978. Now some 400,000 children a year are born thanks to laboratory techniques.

Dr David Adamson, chairman of the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies said: "Millions of families with children have been created, thereby reducing the burden of infertility.

"The technology has improved greatly over the years to increase pregnancy rates. The babies are as healthy as those from other infertile patients who conceive spontaneously.

"With these accomplishments as a technology, and with recognition of Professor Robert Edwards as a Nobel Laureate, IVF is firmly established now in the mainstream of medicine."

The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology says that about a third of embryo transfers are successful. But increasing numbers of women are having single embryo transfers - preventing the risk of twins and multiple births.

Chairman Dr Ann Veiga said: "Five million babies are a clear demonstration that IVF and ICSI are now an essential part of normalised and standardised clinical therapies for the treatment of infertile couples.

"Many aspects have changed since the early days of IVF, especially the results in terms of babies born, but there is still room for improvement. Our objective is the birth of single healthy baby."

British expert Dr Simon Fishel said: "I remember well the time of Louise's birth, and also transferring the embryo that became her sister – both of whom are now mums in their own right.

"The five million milestone not only justifies all the legal and moral battles, the ethical debates and hard-fought social approval, it is also a testament to the great scientists and doctors who have worked so hard to improve the treatment of patients, and to the patients themselves who have put their faith in us."

Tags: Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Europe | UK News | Womenís Health & Gynaecology

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