IVF Passes 'One Million Babies' Milestone

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - An estimated one million children have been born as a result of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment since the first "test tube baby," Louise Brown, was born in England in 1978, according to the American Infertility Association.

The AIA has declared June "World Infertility Month," to focus on the causes, prevention and treatment of a problem suffered by millions of couples around the world.

It notes that many IVF babies are now young adults.

"These kids ... are telling us they're comfortable, confident and secure with who they are," AIA executive director Pamela Madsen said recently. "The news is that each of these IVF kids feels no different than any other child."

IVF typically works as follows: A woman is given medication to stimulate the development, growth, and maturation of eggs. These are then removed and fertilized with a husband's, partner's or donor's semen in a laboratory, often in a glass petri dish.

Should embryos result, one or more are implanted in her womb and carried to term.

Another popular form of assisted reproductive technology is the intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in which sperm is injected directly into the egg.

Although IVF has brought the joy of children to many couples, it remains a controversial procedure because of the fate of spare embryos created but not required by the couple.

They may be stored or destroyed. In several countries laws have been passed or are under consideration allowing scientists to use leftover IVF embryos for stem cell research.

In Britain, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) responded to the news about one million IVF babies by pointing to another statistic.

Since 1978, it said, "tens of millions of IVF babies have perished in a process which puts early unborn lives at an enormously disproportionate risk of death."

SPUC cited Australian expert Dr. Evelyn Billings, who told a 1999 Catholic gathering in India that only 1.7 percent of conceptions generated by IVF treatment results in a live birth.

"Millions of IVF babies who are kept in cold storage around the world are now seen by many as convenient objects for destructive stem cell research," SPUC commented. "The advent of IVF has led to a commodification of human life to a quite horrifying extent."

Also opposed to IVF is the American Life League, whose president, Judie Brown, said Tuesday the procedure "mechanizes the natural procreative act of bearing children that occurs between a husband and a wife."

"No couple has a right to a child, but every child has a right to be conceived in the sanctity of marriage and welcomed as the gift every child is," she said.

Australian researchers earlier this year said a study had found that IVF babies are twice as likely to have birth defects as are babies conceived naturally.

See also:
'Staggering' Results Noted In Non-IVF Fertility Trial (June 26, 2002)
New Research Raises Concerns About IVF Baby Defects (Mar. 8, 2002)

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow