World now has 5 million test tube people, new estimate

Embryologist Ric Ross holds a dish with human embryos at the La Jolla IVF Clinic in La Jolla, February 28, 2007 in La Jolla, California.</p>

Embryologist Ric Ross holds a dish with human embryos at the La Jolla IVF Clinic in La Jolla, February 28, 2007 in La Jolla, California.

There are now about five million people in the world who have been born through In-vitro fertilization (IVF), according to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).

The Society has based the estimates on figures for in-vitro fertilization treatment cycles up to 2008. They will be presented this week at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Istanbul, says the Daily Mail.

AFP reports that about 350,000 babies "conceived in petri dishes" are now born every year, which represents about 0.3% of the 130-million babies born every year.

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The milestone "justifies all the legal and moral battles, the ethical debates and hard-fought social approval," the news agency quotes Simon Fishel as saying.  Fishel was a member of the team that helped conceive the world's first IVF baby, Louise Brown, who was born in the UK in 1978, the BBC explains.  Her mother, Lesley Brown, died last month.

The estimate shows the initial controversy over "man's scientific manipulation of nature" has faded, says the Cambridge News. Louise Brown's birth sparked an intense ethical debate, but the technique has now become routine in many parts of the world, the news service says.

More from GlobalPost: Lesley Brown, mother of world's first test tube baby, dies aged 64