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Questions Raised Over Safety of In-vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization is becoming increasingly popular. More than three million babies worldwide are conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) IVF , ovulation induction and intra-uterine induction.

In Britain, ART accounts for 1.4 per cent of all births every year 10,242 in 2004 while many more women undergo treatment unsuccessfully (the success rate among women under 35 is 28.2 per cent, falling to 10.6 per cent for those aged 40-42). But many have begun to wonder, like noted fertility expert Professor Robert Winston, Can we really trust the science behind IVF?

Disturbing revelations are coming in from various studies. Researchers in the U.S. say that the common practice of storing fertilized embryos can provoke genetic changes that may develop into mental and behavioral disorders later in life. From Canada come claims that IVF can increase some birth defects tenfold; while from Denmark a study of young men finds those conceived through fertility treatment are 50 per cent more likely to be infertile themselves. Or is it just a 'mass experiment' with desperate women as the guinea pigs and the results a time-bomb that future generations will have to defuse?

Louise Brown, the worlds first test tube baby, was born in 1978 and became a mother herself last year. Her son, Cameron, was conceived naturally and this was hailed in some quarters as proof that IVF really 'works'. Others, however, caution against attributing too much significance to this happy event. The treatment that led to Louises birth, they point out, was very different from today's.

Doctors waited until one of her mother Lesley's eggs had ripened, collected it and then fertilized it in a test tube with her husband's sperm before replacing it in her womb. Since then, procedures have moved become more and more complex. The main developments in ART have focused on manipulating the production of a woman's eggs through the admin
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