The world’s first in vitro fertilization (IVF) baby, Louise Joy Brown, was born in 1978 in the U.K. Since then, approximately 8 million babies have been born world-wide as a result of IVF. In the United States alone, approximately 1.5-2 percent of all babies born these days are conceived via IVF.
In the past 40 years, since the conception and delivery of Louise Joy Brown, IVF has come a long way. The treatment was initially developed to allow women with fallopian tube blockage to conceive a pregnancy. With advances in technology though, IVF can now be used to treat many different types of fertility issues. For instance, the development of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in the early 1990s has allowed IVF to be a very successful treatment option for couples with male infertility. And, the development of preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) has allowed many couples with a history of recurrent pregnancy loss to have a healthy pregnancy.
Advances in technology have also allowed for significant improvements in success rates. As Dr. Wisot noted in his article this week, there continues to be positive trends in IVF treatment and success rates. While the pregnancy rate from IVF has remained high, the incidence of multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.) has continued to decline over the past several years. Overall, IVF is leading to healthy pregnancies and the babies seem to be just as healthy as the general population.
With all of that being said, the question remains about why IVF is still not being covered by most insurance plans. Even after the American Medical Association declared infertility a true disease in 2017, most insurance companies have still not come on board. So, this is where our efforts need to lie over the next few years. After 40 years and 8 million babies, IVF treatment has proven itself to be a successful treatment option for many couples who struggle with infertility and it should be a financially accessible option for couples who need it.