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What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?

Although various definitions have been used for ART, the definition used by CDC is based on the 1992 Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act that requires CDC to publish the annual ART Success Rates Report. According to this definition, ART includes all fertility treatments in which both eggs and sperm are handled. In general, ART procedures involve surgically removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries, combining them with sperm in the laboratory, and returning them to the woman’s body or donating them to another woman. They do NOT include treatments in which only sperm are handled (i.e., intrauterine—or artificial—insemination) or procedures in which a woman takes medicine only to stimulate egg production without the intention of having eggs retrieved.

Puzzle of baby and human cell.
ART has been used in the United States since 1981 to help women become pregnant, most commonly through the transfer of fertilized human eggs into a woman’s uterus (in vitro fertilization). However, deciding whether to undergo this expensive and time-consuming treatment can be difficult. Learn more about ART patient resources.

 

Most Recent ART Data

According to CDC’s 2012 ART Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report, 176,247* ART cycles were performed at 456 reporting clinics in the United States during 2012, resulting in 51,267 live births (deliveries of one or more living infants) and 65,160 live born infants. Although the use of ART is still relatively rare as compared to the potential demand, its use has doubled over the past decade. Today, over 1% of all infants born in the United States every year are conceived using ART.

* Note: This number does not include 27 cycles in which a new treatment procedure was being evaluated.

Download the 2012 Data—Clinic Tables and Data Dictionary [XLS - 1.41MB]

15 Years of ART Surveillance

ART can alleviate the burden of infertility on individuals and families, but it can also present challenges to public health as evidenced by the high rates of multiple delivery, preterm delivery, and low birth-weight delivery experienced with ART. Monitoring the outcomes of technologies that affect reproduction, such as contraception and ART, has become an important public health activity.

CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health has a long history of surveillance and research in women’s health and fertility, adolescent reproductive health, and safe motherhood. In response to congressional mandate, CDC began work to strengthen existing data collection efforts initiated by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and to develop a national system for monitoring ART use and outcomes.

In 1997, CDC submitted to Congress the first annual report, titled Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates: National Summary and Fertility Clinic Reports. This report gained a wide audience, including potential ART patients and their families, policy makers, researchers and health care providers. Maternal and child health professionals, as well as state and local public health departments, also began requesting data on birth outcomes among infants born using ART technologies in their localities. In 2002, CDC prepared the first ART surveillance report on ART use and outcomes by state. The ART Surveillance Summary is now published as a supplement to CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Learn more about National ART Surveillance.

Expanding the Scope of ART Outcomes Research

The National ART Surveillance System (NASS) does not contain information on long-term outcomes of ART. This information can be obtained by linking ART surveillance data with other surveillance systems and registries, while paying close attention to confidentiality protection. Since 2001, CDC has collaborated with health departments of three states (Massachusetts, and later Michigan and Florida), to link NASS with vital records, hospital discharge data, birth defects registries, cancer registries, and other surveillance systems of these states. This project, called States Monitoring ART (SMART) Collaborative, provides a unique opportunity for federal and state public health agencies to work together on establishing state-based public health surveillance of ART, infertility and related issues. Learn more about the SMART Collaborative.

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Related Links

  • Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology
    The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) promotes and advances the standards for the practice of assisted reproductive technology to the benefit of patients, members and society at large.
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine
    The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is a multidisciplinary organization for the advancement of information, education, advocacy and standards in the field of reproductive medicine.
  • American Fertility Association
    The American Fertility Association (AFA) is a national consumer organization that offers support for men and women dealing with infertility. Their purpose is to educate the public about reproductive disease and support families during struggles with infertility and adoption.
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
    RESOLVE is a national consumer organization that offers support for men and women dealing with infertility. Their purpose is to provide timely, compassionate support and information to people who are experiencing infertility and to increase awareness of infertility issues through public education and advocacy.
  • Fertile Hope
    Fertile Hope is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing reproductive information, support and hope to cancer patients whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility.
  • Urology Care Foundation
    The official foundation of the American Urological Association provides educational services and referrals to benefit patients with male infertility, and is committed to advancing urologic research and education to improve patient’s lives.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Library of Medicine
    The National Library of Medicine’s, MedlinePlus, offers information on infertility including drugs and medications, medical terms, and other resources for care, support, and decision making.
 

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