If you are diagnosed with Infertility, fertility treatments such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) seem to be one of the best options to pursue in order to create the family you want. But, what are the risks?
“Our findings included a significant association between the use of assisted reproductive technology, such as certain types of in vitro fertilization, and an increased risk of birth defects,” said the author (Lorraine Kelley-Quon, MD) of a study conducted at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.
Kelly-Quon presenting at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference recently reported that IVF may significantly increase the risk of birth defects in organs such as the heart, eyes, reproductive organs and urinary systems.
Overall, an IVF infant’s odds of birth defects were 1.25 times greater than that of a naturally conceived infant with similar maternal characteristics.
This research reconfirms the meta analysis study published in June 2012 in journal Fertility and Sterility which examined all studies (published by September 2011) with data related to birth defects in children conceived by IVF and related treatments, compared with naturally conceived children.
Among 56 studies that were eligible for analysis, 46 studies had data on birth defects in children conceived by IVF and/or related treatments and showed a risk estimation of 1.37 higher than babies born by natural methods.
But is it IVF or infertility or both that causes the increase in birth defects? This question remains to be answered, but in the light of the fact that the increase in genetic defects are not seen in babies conceived using techniques such as artificial insemination or ovulation induction medication, suggests that the process of IVF itself may be a significant contributor.
Although one study examined whether lab procedures were at fault, they could not find evidence that this that was the cause of the genetic damage, but more investigation is clearly needed in this arena.
What other reasons that could account for increase in birth defects associated with assisted reproduction? Perhaps closer scrutiny of children born by means of IVF results in a higher reported rate which may be misleading since it boosts the apparent relative risk. It’s hard to know at this point.
Of course, as always it’s important for potential parents considering IVF to understand the potential risks, but it does still remain a good option, if not the only option available for many couples. Hopefully with new evidence coming to light, we can turn our attention why IVF may be associated with this increase. Further fine tuning techniques and procedures to reduce the risks as much as possible is now on everyone’s minds.
S. Fenella Das Gupta PhD Neuroscience, MFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#47275) working in Petaluma. She counsels couples and individuals as they nagivate their way through the fertility maze. For information about her practice see www. innermirror.com