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1 in 18 babies born through in-vitro fertilization in Japan

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A record-high one in 18 babies was born through in-vitro fertilization treatment in Japan in 2016, a survey showed Wednesday.

In analyzing the rising trend of IVF births, experts said public subsidy programs for the treatment became more known in the country as more people marry later in life.

The survey by the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that a record 447,790 in-vitro fertilizations were conducted in the reporting year, resulting in 54,110 births, also an all-time high and up 3,109 from the previous year.

Since Japan's first IVF baby was born in 1983, the total number of children through the treatment in the country reached around 530,000. The ratio of IVF babies to all newborns, which stood at one in 97 in 2000, has been rapidly increasing in the past 10 years or so.

The state provides subsidies for married couples to go through the IVF treatment, while local governments including the Tokyo metropolitan government also run similar programs.

The financial aid by the central government can be received by women younger than 43. The age limit is set as the treatment can be more successful for younger women.

The subsidies are only available for a couple whose total income is less than 7.3 million yen ($65,000).

IVF treatment costs around 300,000 yen to 500,000 yen each time. "With the subsidy programs, IVF treatment has become available even for young couples who were unable to receive it because of financial conditions," said Osamu Ishihara, a professor at Saitama Medical University who was involved in conducting the survey.

The survey also showed that 44,678 babies were born through IVF treatment using frozen embryos or eggs, accounting for some 80 percent of all IVF births in 2016. The method helps women who, for example, want a baby after treatment of diseases such as cancer.

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