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 1997, by the AIHW's National Perinatal Statistics Unit at the University of New South Wales, shows that there were 3,458 births in Australia after assisted conception in 1997, a 9.3% increase on the previous year.

The Director of the National Perinatal Statistics Unit, Dr Paul Lancaster, said that the message that is 'probably of greatest interest to couples considering assisted conception' is that 'when all techniques of assisted conception are put together, births occurred in 15.2% of treatment cycles'.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection accounted for 41% of embryo transfer cycles in 1997, compared with just under 20% in 1994.

'Another interesting finding was that about 9% of assisted conception mothers were aged 40 years or more, compared with 2% of all mothers giving birth.

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

Multiple pregnancies (i.e. twins, triplets, etc.) occurred in 20% of all IVF and GIFT pregnancies, compared with only 1.4% of all pregnancies in Australia. There was considerable variation in multiple pregnancy rates among the 29 IVF and GIFT units in Australia (range 7% to 30%).

Other findings in Assisted Conception Australia and New Zealand 1997 include:

  • The number of treatment cycles for all types of assisted conception increased from 16,809 in 1991 to 25,766 in 1997.
  • More than half of all fetal and neonatal deaths after assisted conception occurred in multiple births.


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