Scientists are alarmed by the tremendous rise in the number of births by in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Europe. As reported in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology the tally has now reached more than 1.4 million IVF-infants born since 1997.  The use of assisted reproduction techniques (ART) is constantly increasing, thereby creating a genuine “European paradox” in their opinion: a growing demand for IVF in spite of stable biological fertility rates.

This increase could be due to several different factors, such as having children later in life. However in 2008 the World Health Organization (WHO) modified the criteria for diagnosing infertility after only 1 year, instead of the previous 2-year period. Another considerable factor is the ART “business” in Europe: “As it is customary in business practices, advertising campaigns create a demand, which in turn creates more supply. Thus the marketing campaign for IVF has most likely contributed to this increase”. Some internet sites also promote the dream of having a child under any circumstances, and claim that clients will be “satisfied or reimbursed”.   

Already in 2004, the ART specialists from the UK, the Netherlands and Australia had published the same conclusion in the British Medical Journal. In their opinion, IVF had become a “profit-making business”. Their publication warned against overtreatment of couples with a reasonable chance of conceiving naturally, or for cases without any specific reason. The authors reaffirmed their support for establishing guidelines and standard operating procedures.