Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has been responsible for the birth of over 3 million babies since the delivery of Louise Brown in the UK 28 years ago. Currently, one in 80–100 children born in the USA, one in 50 born in Sweden, one in 40 born in Australia and one in 24 born in Denmark are the product of this form of treatment. In 2003, more than 100,000 in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles were reported from 399 clinics in the USA, resulting in the birth of more than 48,000 babies. Worldwide, this figure has now exceeded 200,000 births per annum and is continuing to rise. Indeed, it is a biological certainty that the more ART is used in one generation, the more it will be needed in the next. Given the cost of this form of treatment, and the fact that children born as a consequence of ART stand a 30–40% increased risk of birth defects , the current widespread use of assisted conception may constitute the beginnings of a serious public health problem.
Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology Vol. 3, Issue 3, p. 267-271