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 61,740 babies.
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
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 disparities.
"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
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.
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Zoll added that "these treatments have consistently failed two-thirds
of the time since 1978," when the first test tube baby was born, in
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 birth weights 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
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