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Fertility milestone as number of IVF babies tops 300,000

By Ella Pickover

More than 300,000 children have been born in the UK over the last quarter of a century thanks to IVF and other fertility techniques, new figures show.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said the figure, which includes the number of babies born from IVF and donor insemination between 1991 and 2015, was a "milestone".

It said that fertility treatment has grown markedly since 2010, with almost a third of these babies arriving in the six years to 2015.

Meanwhile, more than a million cycles of IVF have taken place in the UK in the last 25 years.

By the end of 2015, the number of in vitro fertilisation cycles carried out since 1991 stood at 1,034,601, according to the HFEA.

During IVF, an egg is removed from a woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory.

The fertilised egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman's womb to grow and develop. The first cycle of IVF was completed 40 years ago by British scientists.

The average age of women having fertility treatment is 35 years and this has remained largely static over recent years, the HFEA added.

Treatments involving women aged 18-34 remain the largest single group, accounting for 43% of all treatments, while treatments for women aged 40 and over account for just 20% of all treatments (14,500), with very few treatments being provided to women over 45.

The HFEA, which regulates UK fertility clinics, released the figures to mark National Fertility Awareness Week.

HFEA chairwoman Sally Cheshire said: "The figures we have released today show that the UK's fertility sector continues to be one of the most vibrant and successful in the world.

"Families using assisted reproduction services across the UK are better served than ever before, and we will continue to encourage all who work in the sector to offer the highest quality support for patients who are both successful and unsuccessful."

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