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Oct 18, 2013 11:45 AM EDT

Pregnancy by Egg Donation on the Rise, but Still Remains a 'Last Resort' for Most Parents


In a ten-year period since the beginning of the 21st century, pregnancies via donated eggs have nearly doubled, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

USA Today reported the study's authors presented their findings Thursday in Boston at the American Society for Reproductive Medicines' annual meeting. The researchers said in 2000, 10,801 women conceived a child with fresh or frozen donated eggs and that number climbed to 18,306 in 2010.

Also on the rise in the span of time was the rate of success in what doctors consider the desired outcome: a single baby born after 37 weeks of pregnancy and weighing at least 5.5 pounds. In 2000, that rate was 18.5 percent, but in 2010 it had become about 25 percent.

Study lead author Jennifer Kawwass, a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, said the results are encouraging, but there are improvements to be made.

Among such procedures, in vitro fertilization (IVF) remains to be the most popular, accounting for 89 percent in 2010. IVF consists of a woman using her own egg with the sperm of a donor or her partner, as opposed to taking the egg of a donor. In that instance, egg donors are often women over 35 years old who are less likely to become pregnant.

One thing that did not change from 2000 to 2010 was the average age of donors and recipients, 28 and 41 respectively. Experts said this process is still widely viewed as a last resort for potential parents even though it is becoming more common and successful.

Dr. Evan Myers, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine, said he still sees parents wanting to have a child with their own genetics. He wrote an op-ed to accompany the study.

"This study confirms that donor eggs have a high success rate," Myers told HealthDay. "In some ways it confirms what we already knew. The older you are, the harder it is to get pregnant."

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