A QUARTER of a million UK babies have been born as a result of IVF, new figures show.
The 250,000th IVF baby was born in February 2015, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
The British Fertility Society (BFS) welcomed the milestone figure, saying it was “great news” for patients and their families.
The figures, disclosed by the Press Association, show a sharp rise in the number of IVF and other assisted reproduction treatments in the 25 years since the HFEA was established.
In 1991, 6,146 women received 6,609 IVF treatments, resulting in 1,226 live births.
By 2013 this had risen to 52,288 women receiving 67,708 cycles of IVF treatment, from which 15,283 babies were born.
In 2014, there were 2,917 treatments in Yorkshire alone.
The world’s first IVF baby was born at Oldham and District Hospital in Greater Manchester on 25 July 1978. Her name was Louise Brown and she weighed 5lb 12oz.
At that time, newborn children were known colloquially as test tube babies.
The success rate for IVF has risen from 14% in 1991 to 26.5% in 2014, according to the figures, which have been released during National Fertility Awareness Week.
“When the HFEA was set up in 1991 we could never have imagined that over 250,000 babies would be born just 25 years later through assisted reproduction,” said HFEA chairwoman Sally Cheshire.
“These babies are amongst the five million that have been born worldwide and I am delighted that so many people have been able to have their much-longed-for family.
“We will continue to work with all UK fertility clinics to ensure the best quality care is given to patients, so that even more families are created in the future.”
Professor Adam Balen, chairman of the BFS, said: “The BFS welcomes this news that the number of children born from IVF and other assisted reproductive treatments has now passed a quarter of a million.
“This is a major milestone and is great news for parents and their families. This is particularly poignant in National Fertility Awareness Week as we raise awareness of the many struggles couples face in having a much-wanted family.
“Over the years IVF success rates have improved and more people have access to treatment. However, as a Society we are still extremely concerned about some CCGs limiting access to treatment and going against the current National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance on this.”
Susan Seenan, chief executive of leading patient charity Fertility Network UK, said: “It is heart-warming and reassuring to hear during National Fertility Awareness Week that a quarter of a million IVF babies have now been born in the UK - in the nearly 40 years since the word’s first IVF baby was born in the UK.
“However, it is important to remember that IVF cannot help everyone and much needs to be done to support those women and men who are unable to have a baby without medical help.
“Our recent UK survey shows that if you do need IVF you must face a series of emotional, social and financial hurdles. These include often having to pay crippling amounts of money for your own medical treatment, not receiving appropriate medical information from your GP, a lack of affordable, accessible counselling and emotional support, a paucity of workplace support and the deterioration of core relationships.
“Far more needs to be done to help individuals through the far-reaching devastation fertility issues wreak.”
The HFEA figures show that substantially more women have fertility treatment in London than any other part of the UK.
The fewest number of treatments take place in Northern Ireland.
Women in London had 16,649 cycles of treatment during 2014 while those in Northern Ireland underwent 1,498.
Regional figures from around the UK show that during 2014 there were: