Assisted conception - more births with newer techniques

Births after assisted conception are continuing to increase in Australia, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The rise is occurring with increasingly successful use of a technique known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), as well as 'conventional' in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) techniques.

Assisted Conception Australia and New Zealand 1998 and 1999, by the AIHW's National Perinatal Statistics Unit at the University of New South Wales, shows that there were 3,873 births after assisted conception in Australia in 1998, a 10.2% increase on the previous year.

The Director of the National Perinatal Statistics Unit, Dr Paul Lancaster, said that the number of treatment cycles for all types of assisted conception increased by more than 60% since the early 1990s.

'Probably of greatest interest to couples considering assisted conception is that when all techniques of assisted conception are put together, births occurred in 15.9% of treatment cycles,' Dr Lancaster said.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection accounted for 47.1% of embryo transfer cycles in 1999, compared with just under 20% in 1994.

'Another finding was that about 8% of assisted conception mothers were aged 40 years or more-compared with just over 2% of all mothers giving birth.'

'Similarly, about 25% of assisted conception fathers were 40 or over compared with 10% of all Australian fathers.'

Multiple pregnancies (i.e. twins, triplets, etc.) occurred in about 20% of all IVF and GIFT pregnancies, compared with only 1.5% of all pregnancies in Australia. There was considerable variation in multiple pregnancy rates among the 38 IVF and GIFT units in Australia and New Zealand (range 13% to 26%).


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