'One In Every Classroom': IVF Births At Record High
However, experts still urge women not to wait too long to have children.
After a year of trying for a baby with no results, Sydney mum Kelly Mitchell decided it was time to seek out medical advice.
Despite showing no previous symptoms, Mitchell discovered she was suffering from stage three endometriosis -- a condition which causes cells similar to those that line the uterus to grow in locations outside the uterus.
At 30 years of age and newly married, Mitchell made the decision to undergo in vitro fertilisation treatment (IVF).
She had heard plenty of horror IVF stories -- of IVF cycles going on for years, and costing tens of thousands of dollars (to no avail) -- so she was prepared for the worst.
“Obviously you set yourself up ‘this is the first go don’t get upset if it doesn’t work,'" Mitchell told ten daily.
Kelly and her husband Tom with son Max. Image: provided
One cycle of IVF treatment later, Mitchell was pregnant with her son Max, before falling pregnant naturally with her second, Theodore, nine months after Max's birth.
Mitchell's is the ultimate success story in fertility treatment and according to the latest data, success is happening more often.
The chances of having a baby following IVF treatment are the highest in IVF's 40-year history.
Numbers released in a University of New South Wales report on Sunday revealed one in four embryo transfers resulted in a live birth during the time period.
During this time 13,596 Australian IVF babies were born.
That's one in 25 Australian babies - or one in every classroom, President of the Fertility Society of Australia Professor Michael Chapman told ten daily.
Chapman said the rising number of IVF babies is a reflection of a rise in cycles being undertaken and an improvement in success rates in recent years.
“What’s happened is that the number of embryos or number of cycles involving frozen transfer has increased and what has happened at the same time as that increase is the technology has got better," Chapman said.
Frozen embryo transfer involves taking embryos which have been cryopreserved (frozen) before placing them into the uterus, a process Chapmain said laboratories have greatly improved and for the first time, accounted for more transfers than fresh cycles.
The report revealed the live birth rate per embryo transfer though increasing, is only up to just above a quarter at 26.2 percent.
The age of women opting to undergo IVF treatment is also on the rise, with patients aged over 40 accounting for one in four cycles, which experts say is of concern.
"We as fertility specialists continue to urge women of our nation to think about having a baby earlier because you may not get a baby at all if you leave it too long."
And while the report reveals the success rate for these women has increased, Chapman says at a 13 percent success rate, the numbers are "still poor."
The study's authors warn its numbers should be taken with caution due to the potential for variability in self-reporting among clinics and the small numbers involved.
Chapman explained while having twins may sound great, the risks involved including brain damage and cerebral palsy, are increased. As a result, the ability to transfer a single embryo as opposed to two or three, is safer practice.
The proportion of IVF cycles using only one embryo increased to 88 percent in 2016, with only 3.8 percent of IVF births resulting in twins or triplets.
The report was funded by the FSA using data about IVF cycles undertaken in 2016, which is maintained by the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit within UNSW.
IVF Still A Game Of Hit And Miss
A 2016 audit of IVF clinics conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed, there is the ability for clinics to present misleading information regarding success rates.
This is largely due to the way different clinics define 'success.'
"It is important to know whether a clinic’s success is defined as a clinical pregnancy or a live birth," Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority Senior Research Officer Karin Hammarberg wrote in The Conversation.
"And whether the success rate figures are per started treatment cycle or per embryo transfer."
While the rate of pregnancy per embryo transfer is 33 percent, the live birth per started treatment cycle is only 20 percent.
The audit found most clinics quote pregnancy per embryo transfer rates.
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