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The number of assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures in Australia and New Zealand (mainly IVF, in vitro fertilisation) rose by about 10% per year between 2004 and 2008, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2008, found that there were almost 62,000 ART cycles in Australia and New Zealand in 2008-a 9% increase on 2007 and almost 50% more than in 2004. The number of babies born following ART treatment also rose-by 45% between 2004 and 2008.

'ART children now account for an estimated 3.3% and 2.0% of children born in Australia and New Zealand respectively,' said Professor Michael Chapman, of the Fertility Society of Australia.

'However, a clear trend in ART treatment in recent years has been the reduction in the rate of multiple birth deliveries.'

In 2008, the multiple delivery rate for ART treatment cycles was 8.4%-compared to 10.0% in 2007 and 16.4% in 2004.

'This reduction is due to a voluntary shift in practice by clinicians and patients to single embryo transfer. It is significant because multiple births can result in increased health risks to both mothers and babies,' Professor Chapman said.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan of the AIHW's National Perinatal Statistics Unit said it was important to note that the decrease in the multiple birth delivery rate had been achieved while pregnancy rates remained stable at around 22% per cycle.

'Of the treatment cycles in 2008, 23% resulted in a pregnancy and 17% led to the birth of at least one liveborn baby,' Dr Sullivan said.

'There were around 10,600 live deliveries and 11,500 liveborn babies in that year.'

The report shows that in 2008, the average age of women undergoing ART treatment using their own eggs (oocytes) was 36 years, similar to the previous year. The average age of women using donor eggs/embryos in 2008 was 41 years.

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the first ART baby born in Australia. Over the last three decades, more than 102,000 babies have been born in Australia and New Zealand with the help of ART, and more than 3.5 million babies worldwide.

Canberra, 15 September 2010

Further information: Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan, AIHW, ph. 02 9382 1064, mob. 0439 994 820 or Professor Michael Chapman, Fertility Society of Australia, mob. 0412 900 120.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2008

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