Author(s): Ooki S
The effect of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and non-ART ovulation stimulation fertility treatment on the number and rate of multiple live births from 1979-2008 in Japan was estimated using two independent data sources, ART statistics and vital statistics. Japanese ART statistics presented by the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology between 1989 and 2008 were gathered and reanalyzed. The number and rates of ART between 1984 and 1988 were interpolated using an approximation formula, using the values from 1983, when the first ART baby was born in Japan, and the 1989-1992 values. The number of ART multiples between 1979-1982 was set as equal to zero. The minimum (or maximum) number of non-ART iatrogenic multiple births was estimated by subtracting the maximum (or minimum) ART multiples from the total iatrogenic multiples, which was estimated by vital statistics assuming that spontaneous multiple-birth rates according to maternal age class would be constant. There was an overall increase in the non-ART multiple births during the 30-year period, whereas ART multiples tended to increase from 1983 to 2005, and then rapidly decreased thereafter. The number or percentage of ART multiples was almost consistently lower than that of non-ART multiples. The percentage of non-ART multiples (33%) among the total multiples was estimated to be about three times more than the ART multiples (11-12%) in 2008. Given the medical and social impact of multiple births, it is imperative to construct a hospital-based monitoring system for fertility treatments, specially non-ART fertility treatments and multiple births.