In the past two decades in vitro fertilization has produced "more than 1 million children worldwide who would otherwise never have been conceived," according to an article in the Boston Globe. Yet the explosive demand for "test tube" babies seems to be slowing down.
While more people are in need of IVF than ever -- federal figures counted 7.3 million infertile people in 2002 as compared with 6 million in 1995 -- there are three reasons why the numbers seems to be declining. The youngest members of the baby-boom generation are in their 40s and "starting to think more about their 401(k) than IVF"; IVF technology has become more efficient, which means couples get pregnant faster; and the expense of doing IVF -- one cycle can cost more than $10,000 and usually isn't covered by insurance -- is making it difficult for people to afford "during uncertain economic times."
According to the Globe, about 1 percent of births in the United States -- more than 45,000 babies each year -- were conceived by assisted reproductive technology, mainly IVF. The IVF procedure involves joining an egg and a sperm in a dish for later implantation.
Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.