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With success rates up, more couples turn to technology
Dr. Robert Matteri is in the business of making miracles happen.
Each year, the Portland-based physician and surgeon is responsible for helping dozens of babies come into the world who probably wouldn't have born without his help. His specialty is assisted reproductive technology, also known as ART.
Matteri's palette of medical tools and procedures has grown over the years to include everything from hormone pills used to spur ovulation, to in vitro fertilization techniques.
New technologies and better success rates have attracted a steady stream of new patients to doctors like Matteri, who practices at Portland Center for Reproductive Medicine.
That has meant a dramatic jump in the ART market. In 1996, Matteri oversaw 70 IVF procedures; this year, he predicts a 30 percent increase to 100 procedures. Across the country, the number of ART procedures performed has more than tripled since 1989.
American couples appear to be increasingly eager to try out the wonders of reproductive science, despite costs that can top $10,000 per procedure.
Some of the reasons behind the medically assisted baby boom include:
* The fact that more women are delaying families until their careers are established, pushing child-bearing attempts into the less-fruitful late 30s and even 40s.
* The last gasp of the Baby Boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) marrying and moving through their child-bearing years.
* Improvements in reproductive technologies.
"We've pretty much eliminated male infertility in the last few years," Matteri says of the evolving science of fertility. "That has been a tremendous breakthrough."
That's a far cry from the late 1800s, when just the talk of giving a help boost to husband's sperm using insemination drew jeers of fire and brimstone.
"There were people who thought it was immoral," says Dr. Ken Burry, fertility physician and surgeon at University Fertility Consultants, a three-physician business …