Risk of stillbirth higher after IVF/ICSI


Women who give birth to a singleton after in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) have a four-fold risk of stillbirth according to a Danish study released last month in the prestigious Human Reproduction journal, published in Europe.

“It is important to remember that the risk of stillbirth is still very low among women pregnant after IVF/ICSI. At this stage we do not know whether the increased risk in women pregnant after IVF/ICSI is due t the fertility treatment or to unknown factors pertaining to couples who undergo IVF/ICSI. This needs further investigation,” said Dr. Kirsten Wisborg, who led the study.

The doctor and her team analyzed data collected from unselected pregnant women booked for delivery between 1989 and 2006 at the Aarhus Birth Cohort. Of the 20,166 singleton births from first time pregnancies, 82% were conceived without medical intervention, 10% were from sub-fertile parents who conceived after more than a year of trying, 4% conceived after non-IVF treatment and 4% conceived after IVF/ICSI. The total of 86 stillbirths represents an overall risk of stillbirth at 4.3 per thousand pregnancies regardless of how conceived.

The disparity in stillbirth occurrences becomes apparent when you break them out by conception method. The risk of stillbirth for IVF/ICSI pregnancies was 16.2 per thousand. Some good news came with the risk levels being fairly similar for fertile and sub-fertile women.

“Until now, there has been speculation that the increased risk of adverse outcomes, such as stillbirths, in assisted reproduction might be due to factors related to the underlying infertility of the couples. However, we found the risk was similar between sub-fertile couples, women who had conceived after non-IVF fertility treatment and fertile couples. This may indicate that the increased risk of stillbirth is not explained by infertility and may be due to other, as yet unexplained factors such as the technology involved in IVF/CSI or some physiological difference in the couples that require IVF/ICSI,” explained Dr. Wisborg.

She and her team are continuing their research.

Source: Emma Mason, ESHRE; Medical News Today


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