Marilyn Crawshaw, senior lecturer in the University of York's department of social policy, said the number of couples formally registering children born to foreign surrogates nearly trebled in five years, raising concerns that poor women in developing countries are being exploited by rich Westerners, The Independent reported.
British couples choose an egg donor and it is fertilized with the father's sperm using invitro fertilization and a woman in another country carries the child to term.
"Parental orders" granted following surrogacy -- to transfer the child from the surrogate mother in another country to the British parents rose from 47 in 2007 to 133 in 2011. Crawshaw's findings were published in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law.
Although the figures were relatively small, Crawshaw said evidence suggested the number of children born in India for British couples was "well in excess" of the cases known to official sources, making monitoring very difficult.
Natalie Gamble, a lawyer specializing in surrogacy cases, said people could go overseas and do deals with commercial agencies and then come back and ask for a parental order.
"The law of our land says you cannot buy and sell babies. But the judges end up granting the parental order, with just a rap on the knuckles for the parents, on the grounds that the welfare of the child is paramount," Gamble told The Independent.