IVF Linked to Higher Birth Defect Risks


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A new study has found a link between in vitro fertilization (IVF) and higher risks of birth defects. Researchers from UCLA presented their findings this weekend at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

The study, titled Congenital Malformations Associated with Addisted Reproductive Technology: A California Statewide Analysis found that birth defects were "significantly" increased for infants born after IVF compared to those who were naturally conceived. IVF infants had a birth defect rate of 9%, while naturally conceived children had a rate of 6.6%. Overall, IVF infants were 25% more likely to have birth defects. Specifically, IVF infants had a greater reate of eye, heart, and genitourinary system (genital and urinary organ) malformations.

"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 Dr. Lorraine Kelley-Quon (pictured above), lead author of the study and a general surgery resident at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

The study looked at 4,795 infants born in California from 2006 to 2007 after their parents used "assisted reproductive technologies," such as IVF or other fertility treatments involving the manipulation of both eggs and sperm, as well as 46,025 naturally conceived infants with similar maternal demographics. The researchers took into account the mother's age, race, and number of previous children, as well as the gender of the infants.

"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," said Kelley-Quon.

Other fertility treatments that do not involve the manipulation of egg and sperm were also a part of the study. The researchers found that the increased risk for birth defects for those infants was not significant.

The video below was prepared by UCLA to coincide with the presentation of the new study.