Wealthy couples in Britain, who cannot have their own children, are increasingly seeking 'wombs for hire' from women overseas, specially from countries such as India, a report has claimed.
The number of couples formally registering children born to foreign surrogates has nearly trebled in five years.
This has raising concerns that poor women in developing countries are being exploited by rich Westerners, the Independent reports.
"Parental orders" granted following surrogacy, to transfer the child from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents, have risen from 47 in 2007 to 133 in 2011.
According to the paper, the true scale of the trade is driven by agencies operating in developing countries like India.
Commercial surrogacy is permitted in the US and in many other countries including India, where it was legalised in 2002.
But it is banned in Britain and only expenses may be paid, making it difficult for UK couples where neither partner is able to bear children to find women prepared to volunteer for the role, the paper said.
Marilyn Crawshaw, who published the figures on parental orders in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, said that the number of children born in India to commissioning parents from the UK was 'well in excess' of the cases known to official sources, making monitoring very difficult. (ANI)