In-vitro fertilization in France:200,000 “test-tube” babies in the last 30 years

Population and Societies

451, December 2008

Thanks to the contraceptive revolution, fewer and fewer unwanted babies are born. Today, couples want to choose the number of children they have, and the timing of their births. Expectations among potential parents are very high. Yet as age at childbearing increases, a growing number of couples now have problems conceiving, and are increasingly reliant on medical assistance to achieve a success-ful pregnancy outcome. At a time of renewed public debate on bioethics, Elise de la Rochebrochard explains how many children are born after in-vitro fertilization in France, how the country compares with its European neighbours, and how the situation is liable to evolve.
In 2003, one French birth in twenty (5%) was achieved after a medical treatment or procedure. In half of these cases (2.4%) conception was obtained through ovarian stimulation, and the other half by either artificial insemination (0.8%) or in-vitro fertilization (IVF) (1.7%). The proportion of births obtained after IVF alone has increased steadily over the last twenty years, rising from 0.52% of births in 1988 to 1.74% in 2006. This steady rise reflects both more frequent recourse to IVF and a better success rate (currently, 20-25% of attempts lead to the birth of at least one live child). In France, for 97% of children conceived by IVF, the social parents are also the genetic parents, i.e. no sperm or egg donations are involved. In 2006, only 304 children were born as a result of IVF with donor sperm, 106 with donor egg, and 10 with donor embryo.

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