For reasons researchers have yet to determine, couples who undergo in vitro fertilization to try to conceive are more likely to have an infant born with a birth defect, a new study indicates.
While the great majority of babies born after in vitro fertilization are healthy, they may be significantly more likely than naturally conceived babies to have birth defects, according to the study.
The findings, presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggest that babies conceived via IVF were particularly more prone to defects of the eye, heart, reproductive organs and urinary systems. The study is in line with other studies that have suggested a modest increase in risk, even after controlling for maternal variables.
Experts are not sure if the risk is related to the procedures or to the health conditions that lead prospective parents to seek treatment.
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“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,” wrote study author Lorraine Kelley-Quon, MD, a general surgery resident at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, who conducted the research at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.
“For parents considering in vitro fertilization or other forms of assisted reproductive technology, it is important that they understand and discuss with their doctor the potential risks of the procedure before making a decision," she added.