Laboratory Fertilization Of Eggs In IVF Treatment  Stock Photo:Image ID: 155727377
Why was IVF so controversial?
07:38 - Source: CNN

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More than a half a million babies are born each year from IVF and other methods, according to estimates

More than 2 million IVF cycles are made each year

CNN  — 

The world’s first in-vitro fertilization baby was born in 1978 in the UK. Since then, 8 million babies have been born worldwide as a result of IVF and other advanced fertility treatments, an international committee estimates.

In-vitro fertilization involves removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries and mixing them with sperm outside the body, typically in a Petri dish; “in vitro” is Latin for “in glass.” Fertilized by this process, the eggs become embryos that can be placed in a woman’s uterus, where they can develop into a fetus and eventually a baby.

While IVF births have increased over the past four decades, rates of twins and multiple births have declined, according to the report from the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies, a nonprofit that disseminates global information on assisted reproductive technologies.

The committee presented its results Tuesday at the 34th annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, Spain.

Conception through science

The society was founded in 1985 by Robert Edwards, a Cambridge reproductive biologist who helped lead the first in-vitro conception with gynecologist Dr. Patrick Steptoe.

The historic birth of Louise Brown, known at the time as a “test tube baby,” 40 years ago at Oldham General Hospital was the first to result from IVF.

“I don’t think my mother, Lesley Brown, could ever have imagined how big IVF would become and how many babies would be born,” Brown said of the 8 million who followed her.

The presentation estimates that more than a half a million babies are now born each year from IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, from more than 2 million treatment cycles performed.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which conception also takes place outside the body, involves a single sperm being injected directly into an egg as opposed to being allowed to naturally fertilize an egg in a Petri dish. It was developed in the early 1990s as a treatment for male infertility, though it is now used more generally.

European fertility clinics favor sperm injection over traditional IVF by nearly two-to-one, a pattern found throughout the world, according to the report.

The presentation is based on global data collected from regional registries by the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies.