NEW YORK Feb 17 More test-tube babies were born
in the United States in 2012 than ever before, and they
constituted a higher percentage of total births than at any time
since the technology was introduced in the 1980s, according to a
report released on Monday.
The annual report was from the Society for Assisted
Reproductive Technology (SART), an organization of medical
SART's 379 member clinics, which represent more than 90
percent of the infertility clinics in the country, reported that
in 2012 they performed 165,172 procedures involving in vitro
fertilization (IVF), in which an egg from the mother-to-be or a
donor is fertilized in a lab dish. They resulted in the birth of
That was about 2,000 more IVF babies than in 2011. With
about 3.9 million babies born in the United States in 2012, the
IVF newborns accounted for just over 1.5 percent of the total,
more than ever before.
The growing percentage reflects, in part, the increasing
average age at which women give birth for the first time, since
fertility problems become more common as people age. The average
age of first-time mothers is now about 26 years; it was 21.4
years in 1970.
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
"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."
Earlier data from SART showed that the percentage of
attempts that result in live births is 10 times higher in women
under 35 than in women over 42. And in the older women fewer
than half the IVF pregnancies result in a live birth.
Zoll added, "these treatments have consistently failed
two-thirds of the time since 1978," when the first test tube
baby was born, in England.
After years in which IVF physicians were criticized for
transferring multiple embryos to increase the odds of pregnancy
- because that sometimes resulted in the birth of triplets and
even higher multiples, often with dangerously low birthweights
and other health risks - infertility clinics transferred fewer
embryos per cycle in 2012 than 2011. As a result, the number of
twin and triplet births were both down.
(Reporting by Sharon Begley; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)