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Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Embryo Adoption


ART – Of 4,021,726 total infants born in the USA in 2002, a total of 42,483 (1%) were conceived by ART. Infants conceived with ART accounted for 0.5% of singleton births and 17% of multiple births nationally.

Sixteen percent of all twins and 44% of infants born in triplets or higher order multiples were conceived with ART…The percentage of infants with low birthweight varied from 9% among singletons to 95% among triplets or higher order multiples…

In comparison with singletons born after procedures using freshly fertilized embryos derived from the patient’s eggs, singletons born after procedures using freshly fertilized embryos derived from donor eggs were at increased risk for four perinatal outcomes — low birthweight, very low birthweight, preterm delivery, and preterm low birthweight.

Singletons born after procedures using thawed embryos were at decreased risks for low birthweight, very low birthweight, preterm low birthweight, and term low birthweight; however, they were at increased risk for preterm delivery overall. The variation in risk across procedure types did not reach statistical significance for very low birthweight.

According to the latest estimates of infertility in the USA from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, 15% of women of reproductive age (aged 18–44 years) reported a previous infertility-associated health-care visit, and 2% reported a visit in the previous year (16).

Among married couples in which the woman was of reproductive age, 7% reported they had not conceived after 12 months of unprotected intercourse…

Since the birth of the first infant through ART in the USA in 1981, use of ART has grown substantially. Since 1997, CDC has been monitoring ART procedures performed in the United States…From 1996 (i.e., the first full year for which CDC collected data) through 2002, the number of ART procedures performed increased 78%, from 64,681 to 115,392 (1).

Additionally, during 1996–2002, live-birth rates for all types of ART procedures increased substantially. For the most common type of ART procedure, using freshly fertilized embryos from the patient’s eggs, live-birth rates increased from 28% in 1996 to 35% in 2002.

The number of infants conceived through ART increased 120%, from 20,840 infants conceived through ART procedures performed in 1996 to 45,751 infants conceived through ART procedures performed in 2002.

This report documents that in 2002…Residents of CA, NY, MA, NJ, and IL reported the highest number of ART procedures…[and] the highest number of infants conceived through ART. [CDC, MMWR, Surveillance Summaries, 3June2005/54(SS02);1-24; Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance — US, 2002]


EMBRYO ADOPTION SAVED— Despite the passage of the Stem Cell Enhancement Act in the U.S. House, pro-lifers won the public relations war on this fast emerging issuing. Thanks to “Snowflake Families,” families who adopt unwanted frozen embryos at fertility clinics, the media were forced to show that life does begin at conception.

These snowflake babies were frozen as embryos and now are living, breathing, healthy children. President Bush even hosted a birthday party for them at the White House! The front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post both pictured President Bush holding a snowflake baby and ran articles on embryo adoption.

Just two weeks ago, supporters of the bill were claiming they had enough votes to override a presidential veto. Now, those claims are completely crushed, as pro-lifers count 194 votes (well over the 145 needed to sustain a veto).

Now the fight turns to the Senate. “Be sure to call your Senators and tell them to oppose using taxpayer dollars to destroy human embryos.” [3June05, EF News & Notes]

The Food and Drug Administration FDA has published an interim final rule that corrects previously published overreaching and burdensome restrictions that would have squeezed the life out of the nascent embryo adoption movement.

The FDA had originally planned to begin requiring, effective May 25, extensive tests on cryopreserved human embryos and the couples who may donate the embryos. Scientific evidence and counsel provided by the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) and CMA physician members, however, demonstrated that these requirements were not indicated by any evidence of public health concern, would prove prohibitively costly and would discourage couples from donating their embryos instead of having them destroyed.

The FDA noted in publishing its interim final rule, “After FDA published final rules addressing donor testing/screening and good tissue practice, we heard from individuals who facilitate embryo donation and professional societies representing reproductive tissue  establishments regarding their concerns about the impact of the new regulations on the timing of testing of oocyte (egg) donors and on embryo donation. Since publishing the rules, we learned that specific provisions regarding timing of testing and screening of donors could have the unintended effect of discouraging oocyte and embryo donations, because testing and screening may be difficult to schedule in conjunction with conditioning regimens for oocyte donors and because embryos originally formed for use by a sexually intimate couple may not be donated until long after the tissues were collected and the prescribed time for testing and screening has passed. The interim final rule is intended to correct this problem.”

The CMA has promoted embryo adoption as a life-honoring alternative to destroying embryos created for but not used for in-vitro fertilization. CMA is currently assisting with a $304,000 embryo adoption awareness grant project funded by HHS, and also helped establish the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in TN. The NEDC assists childless couples in receiving and giving birth to embryos not implanted by their genetic parents.

To receive educational information for your patients regarding embryo donation and adoption, contact the National Embryo Donation Center, Phone: 866-585-8549 – E-mail: [email protected]. [May 25, 2005, CMDA Press Release; Dr. DeCook, AAPLOG]