The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Doctors said Monday the success rate of infants born using the in vitro fertilization (IVF) program had increased over the last five years amid ongoing debates over the quality of life of such infants.
"The success rate has increased from 30 percent in the 1980s to 50 percent," gynecologist R. Mucharam said in a talk show organized by the University of Indonesia to observe its 58th anniversary.
He said technological advances, including the invention of more effective drugs for stimulating embryos, had contributed to the rise in the success rate.
The program, first introduced in the 1950s, involves the fertilization of human egg cells outside the body, hormonally controlling the ovulation process, removing the ova (eggs) from the woman's ovaries and allowing sperm to fertilize them in a fluid medium. The successfully fertilized embryo (zygote) is then transferred into the woman's uterus with the intent of to establishing a successful pregnancy.
Individuals can opt to undertake the IVF program when in-body fertilization and/or artificial insemination programs do not result in successful pregnancy. Artificial insemination is the process by which sperm is manually placed into a woman's uterus or cervix by means other than sex.
Gynecologist Indra Nurzam C. Anwar said the success of the IVF program depends on the age of participants.
"Patients under 30 years old have the highest success rate, while those between 38 and 42 have seen the least success," he said.
While technological advances have contributed to more frequent successes, Indra said experts still debated the quality of life of IVF infants, including their life expectancy.
"The first IVF baby in the world, Louis Brown, is less than 30 years old now. No one can predict how long she will survive and so we cannot really tell you whether she is going to live as long as anyone else," he said.
Indonesia began developing its own IVF program in the 1980s and the first baby from the program was born in 1988. Since 1978, there have been some 300,000 babies born globally from the program.
Another gynecologist, Ali Baziad, said besides the survival rate doctors had also debated the intellectual and mental agility of IVF babies.
"Gynecologists across the world have been conducting extensive research into the quality of life of persons born from IVF programs," he said.
"It has been alleged they will face problems in the future because they were not conceived 'naturally'. They are conceived through human intervention."
The gynecologists plan to convene in Italy this March to release their study.(lln)