Blog Post

Number of Test Tube Babies Soar

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

test tube babyA record number of babies conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) were born in 2012 and now constitute a higher percentage of total U.S. births than ever before.

FoxNews.com is reporting that the annual report from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), the only organization that monitors the work of the U.S. fertility industry, found that they performed 165,172 procedures involving IVF in 2012, which resulted in the birth of 61,740 babies. This represented about 2,000 more IVF babies born than in 2011.

Of the 3.9 million babies born in the U.S. in 2012, IVF newborns accounted for 1.5 percent of the total which is a record high.

"Although the rising number of test-tube babies suggests that the technology has become mainstream, critics of IVF point out that the numbers, particularly the success rates, mask wide disparities," Fox reports.

"It's important for people to understand that women over 35 have the highest percentage of failures," said Miriam Zoll, author of the 2013 book Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High Tech Babies.

In older women, fewer than half of IVF attempts result in live births compared to younger women where the rate of births is ten times higher.

As Zoll points out, "these treatments have consistently failed two-thirds of the time since 1978," when the first test tube baby was born in England.

The question not being addressed in the above report is what happens to all of the embryos involved in these attempts?

Many couples opt to preserve their embryos for possible future use, subjecting them to a process known as cryopreservation, of which one clinic claims only 52 percent will result in a pregnancy - which means almost half of these infants are lost.

Because there is no regulation in the fertility industry in the U.S. and no limits on the number of embryos that can be created and transferred, it is estimated that millions of live embryos are routinely discarded during the screening process or are lost during the transfer stage.

The only good news to be found in SART's report is that U.S. fertility doctors have begun to cut back on the number of embryos they transfer into a mother with the hope one will result in a pregnancy. This too often results in multiple births where even more infants are lost when parents decide they don't want more than one or two babies and agree to have their pregnancy "reduced" by aborting one or more of the babies.

"Infertility clinics transferred fewer embryos per cycle in 2012 than 2011," Fox reports. "As a result, the number of twin and triplet births were both down."

Compare these dismal numbers to that of NaPro technology, a natural family planning method developed by Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D. of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and National Center for Women's Health in Omaha, Nebraska. NaPro has up to an 81 percent success rate in achieve pregnancy, depending on the condition, while IVF success rates remain from 21 to 27 percent.

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