5 million babies born so far, thanks to IVF
July 2nd, 2012
03:29 PM ET

5 million babies born so far, thanks to IVF

When Louise Brown was born in 1978, she became the first baby conceived outside the womb, often referred to as a "test-tube" baby. 

Now, 34 years later, fertility experts estimate that 5 million children around the world have been the result of their parents using assisted reproductive technologies.  

The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies, an independent, international non-profit organization that collects and disseminates world data, presented their estimates of successful births resulting from IVF and ICSI treatments at the 28th annual meeting of ESHRE, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, on Sunday.

They based their 5 million estimate on "the number of IVF and ICSI treatment cycles recorded worldwide up to 2008 with estimations added for the following three years," according to an ESHRE press release. The release goes on to say that the cumulative total of births was put at 4.6 million for last year, and that this year it will reach about 5 million.

IVF, which stands for in-vitro fertilization, is a procedure where a woman's eggs are fertilized outside her body. The eggs are removed from her ovaries and then placed in a petri dish with sperm for fertilization to occur.

To improve the chance of fertilization of actually occurring, doctors may choose to inject the sperm directly into the unfertilized egg - an IVF procedure that is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

According to the National Institutes of Health, "many fertility programs routinely do ICSI on some of the eggs even if everything is normal."

Once the fertilized egg starts dividing, it's considered to be an embryo. After a few days of dividing in the lab (usually 3 to 5), the fertilized egg can either be transferred to a woman's uterus or frozen and transplanted at a later date.

The ESHRE statement also says that data collected by ICMART suggests there are around 1.5 million ART cycles now performed around the world each year, producing approximately 350,000 babies. It goes on to say that the United States and Japan are the most "active" in performing assisted reproductive procedures, but that Europe is by far the most active region in the world.  

IVF procedures are no longer considered experimental, but they are also not entirely risk free. In some rare situations, fertility drugs lead to a woman's ovaries being overstimulated, resulting in a build up of fluid in her abdomen and chest. When the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries women are put under anesthesia, which poses a risk of having reaction to the anesthesia drug. Since this is a surgical procedure, there's also the risk of bleeding, infection and damage to surrounding areas. 

Also, if multiple embryos are transferred into the uterus and continue into a full pregnancy, the mother and unborn children are at greater health risks than mothers carrying a single fetus.

However, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week found that under the right circumstances, IVF pregnancies can be just as successful (leading to the live birth of a child) as naturally conceived pregnancies.

The cost of the procedure can be prohibitive for many couples. While some health insurance plans in the United States pay for IVF treatments, others do not.  And the costs can vary depending on where you get the procedure done. The NIH estimates the IVF treatment may cost anywhere from $12,000 to $17,000.

"Five million babies are a clear demonstration that IVF and ICSI are now an essential part of normalized and standardized clinical therapies for the treatment of infertile couples," said ESHR chairman Dr Anna Veiga in the statement. "Many aspects have changed since the early days of IVF, especially the results in terms of babies born, but there is still room for improvement."

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Nicoletta

    I am a very lucky Mom who has a beautiful son thanks to IVF and Dr. Sher. He is an amazing man. I am very grateful to have been able to fulfill my dream of being a Mom and having a family! I was also very blessed to have gotten pregnant on my first try!

    July 2, 2012 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alex

      Gosh you're so close! I had a c-section last year for my DS and it was fine. I was scared, yes. But I made it thourgh. I cried the whole time I was on the operating table because I was so scared but really it went great. I was in and out in a half an hour and I didn't feel anything. The smells on the other hand....gross!! The recovery wasn't all that bad either. Only the first few times I got up and down in the hospital was rough but after I was home it wasn't too bad. I was just a little sore. Oh and my Doctor did not use staples on me. He used skin glue and it was great! Anyways, there are horror stories out there but for the most part c-sections really aren't all that bad. Hopefully this helps calm your fears but since you had such an easy delivery last time I can't see why you would end up with a c-section this time.

      October 11, 2012 at 20:31 | Report abuse |
  2. Reality99

    Every child conceived, through any means, is a miracle and blessing from God.

    July 2, 2012 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SLTsherey

      you mean, in this case, science right, reality?

      July 3, 2012 at 03:01 | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      @SLTsherey – considering how many times a woman generally has to go through IVF attempts, I'd still say it's more miracle than science. Do not dismiss their heartbreak so easily.

      July 3, 2012 at 10:40 | Report abuse |
    • bob

      @Beth: Again, you mean science, right?

      July 3, 2012 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
  3. Julie

    3 of those 5 million are mine-14 yr old from 1st IVF, 12 and 9 yr olds from FETs after that first IVF. 3 for 3 and no multiples complications, we are blessed!

    July 2, 2012 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Eric

    Our IVF baby will be 17 at the end of this month!

    July 2, 2012 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Chris

    My wife and I have twelve week old son that is the result of IVF-egg donor. He is a happy healthy little guy! Despite the misgivings of some of the more closed minded people in the community we owe it all to IVF.

    July 2, 2012 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jackie

    It makes no biological sense for those unable to reproduce naturally to use artificial means to reproduce. Why continue defective genetic material when you can simply adopt? It's stupid.

    July 2, 2012 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      Passing down obviously second-rate genetic material was good enough for your parents. Why not others?

      July 3, 2012 at 00:41 | Report abuse |
    • Sant


      They should sterilize your brain and tongue... Your elevator does not go to the top floor.

      July 3, 2012 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
    • Tisha

      You've obviously never tried to adopt, Jackie–there's nothing "simple" about it. Plus, adoption usually costs way more than IVF treatments.

      July 3, 2012 at 01:04 | Report abuse |
    • H H

      Adoption through local agencies is more expensive than IVF here. Also – why is it the responsibility of infertile couples to adopt?? Why don't other people do it, since it's so great? (By the way, I'm an adoptee....and that's WHY I don't want to adopt!)

      July 3, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
    • H H

      "Defective genetic material" Is NOT why people are infertile. Some have low sperm counts. Some women have endometriosis, or PCOS. That has nothing to do with "defective genes."

      July 3, 2012 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • MJD4

      Spoken by a truly ignorant fool.

      July 3, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • thesilentsea

      Hi Jackie,
      Let me guess can have childern natural. Using IVF does mean that people who use are continueing bad gentic bloodlines. Until you live with this as your only choice of having bio baby mind your own business. Also Do you know how much courage it takes to be labeled Infertile in the first place. Until you live don't speak it.

      July 3, 2012 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • thesilentsea

      Hi Jackie,
      Let me guess can have childern natural. Using IVF does NOT mean that people who use IVF are continueing bad genetic bloodlines. Until you live with this as your only choice of having bio baby so mind your own business. Also Do you know how much courage it takes to be labeled Infertile in the first place. Until you live don't speak it.

      July 3, 2012 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
  7. MJD4

    My 9 year old twins are the result of IVF. I thank God for the wonderful doctors who worked to develop IVF, as well as the fabulous doc I had years ago. I don't have any time for those close minded, negative people who fail to understand what a blessing this has been for so many. If you haven't had to walk the walk of infertility, thank God, because it is painful and difficult.

    July 2, 2012 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Julie

    To Jackie: with your line of logic, those that have "defective" genetic material shouldn't be able to reproduce, IVF or naturally. What would you suggest, sterilize a good part of the population (or, really, everyone, since virtually everyone carries genes that someone out there would see as defective/undesirable), and make everyone adopt? "It's stupid"...now that's the pot calling the kettle black. The inability to conceive naturally isn't a reflection on a couple's genetic material-there are many, many causes of infertility.

    July 2, 2012 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ma & pa

    @Julie, YES. And Jackie, please rethink the premise of your comment.

    July 3, 2012 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. DC

    We have a one yeear old son through donor egg IVF. We had 6 failed IVF cycles. Finally decided to try donor egg and that worked.

    July 3, 2012 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. janegoodhope

    IVF is more dangerous than you might think. Doctors typically prescribe Lupron off label, even though it's not FDA approved for fertility treatments and has been linked to birth defects. At $500+ per shot, it's big business and one reason IVF is so expensive. You can die from IVF drugs. Egg donation is especially shady since the donors are healthy young women motivated by nominal sums of money: usually about $5000 after taxes – not nearly enough to cover medical bills if there are complications. The FDA has failed to track egg donors but many believe their early breast cancer is a result of IVF hormones.

    July 3, 2012 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Donor

      Healthy young donors are NOT always motivated by the money. I donated eggs in my 20s because I knew it was the right thing to do (I was not going to use them, and found a woman who thought I was the perfect donor for her). It was a difficult process. The money I received compensated my time and travel expenses – but the reward was giving my recipient the family that she wanted and I could provide. Altruism does exist.

      July 3, 2012 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
    • Donor

      Also, I am now a breast cancer specialist – and there is NO evidence that fertility treatments (to the donor or recipient) cause breast cancer.

      July 3, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Donor- I work in Breast Imaging and have seen an astounding increase of women in their 30s and early 40s with high grade invasive breast cancers (with no family history). Many of them have undergone fertiilty treatments. I've had 2 patients in the last month alone that were mid 30 with invasive carcinomas that had just undergone a fertility cycle. We had to wait and see if they were pregnant to determine what their next step would be. I think that there needs to be a more extensive study done to see if these treatments should carry a warning.

      July 3, 2012 at 14:55 | Report abuse |
    • Kaylie

      I'm not planning on using my eggs, nor am I planning on going through invasive surgery to "do the right thing". However, if I am paid enough, I'd be more than happy to sell my eggs.

      July 3, 2012 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
  12. DK

    I start the IVF process in August. My husband and I have been trying for about 4 years and nothing. We always thought it was my husband, because he has a little bit of mobility issues; however, it turns out to be me. Because of the issues We only have a 20-30% chance of the proces actually working. We are really excited to go through the process. My insurance is great as they will pay $15,000 of fertility treatments. That is enough for me to do one round of the IVF process. I know God will bless me with a baby wither I have a baby through IVF or adoption.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MJD4

      Good luck, DK. I know it can be challenging, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Best wishes!!

      July 3, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
  13. Mom of One

    Octo-loser mom surely contributed more than her fair share! Otherwise – congrats to everyone else on beautiful babies and happiness.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Leah

    My Mom had 5 miscarriages before me, They tried to adopt when I was 6 Months old and were turned down because they were to old. It shouldn't matter how old you are if you are fulling to offer a child a loving home.
    5 of my cousins were born through medical aid. Triplets were born in the early 70's and are all healthy, They were born early but thats what you get from multiples. I also have an 18 year old and 16 year old both through IVF. That are also extremely health, one just ran in the British Schools Olympics in London and working towards the GB team in 2016 in Brazil.
    But I have also seen the negative side. 2 close friends have gone through multiple rounds of IVF and all they have to show for it are the bills. They have both given up.
    I believe medical can go to far but if it can offer us hope for illness we can't yet cure (Parkinson's or MS) or offer a loving couple a chance to have a child who could otherwise not have one. Please go ahead!!

    July 3, 2012 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kaylie

      I'm going to ask for clarification, Leah. Are you really saying that we should stop working towards curing diseases like Parkinson's so that other people can *try* to get pregnant?

      July 3, 2012 at 18:37 | Report abuse |
  15. johnquepublique

    I have twin IVF nieces who are heading to college this year! 2 wonderful ladies! Thank you, science!

    July 3, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. bb88

    2 of those 5 miillion are mine. They are 10 and 6 (he will be turning TODAY, as we speak). Healthy, happy and smart kids. Both are excel at school. Thank you for the science, we are blessed!!

    July 3, 2012 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Tracy

    As for 'simply' adopt, you are uneducated and obviously know no one who has gone through any adoption process. As a mother who has gone through both IVF (several times) and adoption, I'd say adoption is slightly more more difficult and emotionally taxing. You're lives are put under scrutiny, it's unethically expensive, and sometimes you come so close to being a parent, then the mother decides to parent (which is wonderful), but is devastating to the hopeful adoptive parents. So 'simply adopt', do some homework and ask around what good people have to go through to be parents. And bad parents? Well, they can have kids no problem..lol..

    July 3, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • H H

      There is so much ignorance about adoption. I'm an adoptee, and that's WHY I don't want to adopt. It's not a guarantee you'll get perfect parents (mine were child abusers), and adoption does NOT exist to provide infertile couples with children. Its function is to provide children with homes. That is NOT the sole responsibility of the infertile. Stop tossing adoption in the faces of infertile couples. It's one of the most hurtful pieces of "advice." We already know what adoption is. It's a very personal decision, and it's not for everyone.

      July 3, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • Kaylie

      Adoption laws need to be changed stat. The baby's biological mother should NOT have the right to change her mind after a year. She should have no right to the child after she signs him away. Not a single moment of visitation rights, not a peep on how the child is to be raised, and not a single demand of the new parents.

      July 3, 2012 at 19:00 | Report abuse |

    I was also very blessed to concieve with the help of IVF and was also blessed on the first time, also was blessed the second time when two out of my three frozen embryos were considered unusable therefore took a chance with one and became pregnant! I thank God for the oppurtunity of being a mother and thank my Dr. Schiber from the cincinnati reproductive center to help assist me with this life long dream, God is good all the time!

    July 3, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Andrea

    My granddaughter was a result of IVF last December. It is, indeed, a wonderful miracle.

    July 3, 2012 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Kim

    2 failed ivf's behind me . Trying again this summer with Dr. davis at Cornell – he has the midas touch I have been told. Cngrats to the parents of all those 5 million . So happy for you !!

    July 3, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. anon, but very proud, egg donor

    Congrats to all the parents here 🙂 I donated my eggs 5 times- I really hope the recipients became parents! It's one of the best things I've ever done. Everyone who wants to be a parent and will be a great one should be.
    I happily gave birth myself this year. My husband and I are blessed- it was our turn- and I just realized this- no wonder those eggs of mine were in high demand- if anyone could be perfect, it would be my baby 🙂 We did concieve on our own, but IVF is so necessary in many cases.

    July 3, 2012 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Marie

    I hope to soon join in on having one of the five million. Current on day 6 of stims for my third IVF attempt. Unfortunately the last one ended in a miss m/c after seeing the hearbeat. I'm eternally gateful for this opportunity to have IVF. Bless all the couples and people who have gone down this road. It takes a very special person to endure the physical, mental and financial toll in order to just have the chance to become parents. I wouldn't have grown so close to my husband otherwise after having gone down the darkest roads of infertility...something those fertile mertyls will probably never understand. All he best to those who are trying treatments and living with infertility.

    July 3, 2012 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. SuperiorEuropean

    Interesting that dirty americans can airbrush the word 'BRITISH' as well as the words 'BRISTOL, ENGLAND' as well as the phrase 'THE FIRST TEST TUBE BABY WAS BORN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN' out of a story like this so casually and easily!


    Not really when one considers the way the usa, or is that 'amercia'?, and the animals that inhabit that poverty-striken place write 'history' as 'theirstory' and articles like this one so as to suggest to 'amercian' readers that everything of value on this planet originates from 'amercians' instead of that small and insignificant island off the coast of Europe that seems to produce nearly 85% of the world's major advances in technolofgy and a similar number of the ideas that benefit humankind... whereas the usa is extremely good at providing the world with such 'gifts' as collateralized debt, stockmarket crashes, lead in gasoline, CFCs, poisonous fastfood, mass-obesity, school shootings, mass-illiteracy and the deep-fried twinkie!

    Wave that 'usa #1' foam finger while you still can, 'amercia'!

    July 3, 2012 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. lydia

    i need to know the cost of this (ivf) treatment because my insurance won't cover..thank you

    July 5, 2012 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Kevin

    Not speaking against any person who has been born in this way, but if an IVF procedure creates 10 living humans (see Christopher Hitchens defense in Vanity Fair, Feb 2003, "Fetal Distraction") and 7 are selected out because they don't meet criteria, what is the difference between that and eugenics? I'm not asking to be cheeky. If Hitchens is right and we are talking about something science can only conclude is both "living" and "human" in that petri dish (he was tailing about in the womb), who has the right to decide which ones will be permitted to live, and which ones won't, and why?

    July 5, 2012 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
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