October 4, 2010 / 4:41 PM / 8 years ago

Factbox: Nobel winner helped couples overcome infertility

(Reuters) - This year’s Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, was awarded on Monday to Britain’s Robert Edwards, whose work led to the first “test-tube baby.”

Here are some facts about fertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization (IVF):-

* In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method of assisted reproduction that involves combining an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish. If the egg fertilizes and begins cell division, the resulting embryo is transferred into the woman’s womb where it will hopefully implant in the uterine lining and develop.

* One in six couples worldwide experience some form of infertility problem at least once during their reproductive lifespan. The current prevalence of infertility that lasts for at least 12 months is estimated to be an average of 9 percent worldwide for women aged 20-44.

* Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby, was born in July 1978 in Britain. Since her birth around 4 million children worldwide have been conceived with the aid of assisted reproductive technology (ART).

* Fertility decreases as a woman ages and approaches the menopause. Women are generally thought to be at their most fertile between 20 and 25 years old. Most ART treatments take place in women aged between 30 and 39.

* Long-term follow-up studies have shown that IVF children are as healthy as other children.

* Louise Brown and several other IVF children have given birth to children themselves; this is probably the best evidence for the safety and success of IVF therapy.

SOURCES: Reuters, European

Reporting by David Cutler and Kate Kelland; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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