IVF births now exceed 3 million but UK lags behind

THREE million IVF births have occurred worldwide since "test tube" baby Louise Brown was born in Britain 28 years ago, a report revealed yesterday.

Between 1989 and 2002 the number of babies born each year through IVF rose from 30,000 to 200,000, the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Prague was told.

Extrapolating from the figures, experts calculated that more than three million IVF births had now taken place.

Top of the list for IVF treatments was the United States, with 112,000 per year, followed by Germany (85,000), France (64,000) and the UK (37,000).

But although Britain provides the fourth-highest number of IVF treatments in the world, access to assisted conception in the UK is poor compared with other countries.

Just 633 IVF treatments per million people are conducted each year in Britain. In Europe, only Austria, Croatia and Macedonia provide fewer.

In contrast, Denmark provides 2,031 per million people. Israel, which has a policy of encouraging childbirth, performs 3,000.

• Better diets could be fuelling an increase in the number of women having identical twins, new research suggests.

An Australian study highlights a steady increase in rates of identical twinning dating back to before IVF, previously thought to be causing the rise in twins.

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