Assisted conception leads to increased risk of birth problems

Submitted by Shelby D Burns Tue 01/28/2014

The risk of serious complications such a stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight and neonatal death is around twice as high for babies conceived by assisted reproductive therapies compared with naturally conceived babies. Most comprehensive study The University of Adelaide study is the most comprehensive of its kind by comparing outcomes of more than 300,000 births in South Australia over a 17 year period. This included over 4300 birth from assisted reproductive technology. They compared birth events related to all forms of treatment: in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, ovulation induction and cryopreservation of embryos. Babies twice as likely to suffer a variety of birth problems “Compared with spontaneous conceptions in couples with no record of infertility, singleton babies from assisted conception were almost twice as likely to be stillborn, more than twice as likely to be preterm, almost three times as likely to have very low birth weight, and twice as likely to die within the first 28 days of birth,” explained Professor Michael Davies, study leader, from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute. “These outcomes varied depending on the type of assisted conception used. Very low and low birth weight, very preterm and preterm birth, and neonatal death were markedly more common in births from IVF and, to a lesser degree, in births from ICSI.” ICSI may have a slight advantage compared to other ARTs “Using frozen embryos eliminated all significant adverse outcomes associated with ICSI but not with IVF. However, frozen embryos were also associated with increased risk of macrosomia (big baby syndrome) for IVF and ICSI babies,” stated Davies. May be related to underlying infertility cause The study also considered women who were diagnosed with infertility but did not choose to use intensive reproductive technology. “Women in this group who eventually conceived without the help of invasive assisted reproduction gave birth to babies who were nine times more likely to have very low birth weight, seven times more likely to be very preterm, and almost seven times more likely to die within the first 28 days of birth. This may be due to the underlying medical conditions related to their infertility, or the use of fertility medications or therapies that are not recorded,” Davies explained.

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