Vitro fertilization may be linked to birth defects
A new study has found that women who conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be more likely to have children with birth defects.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 12,000 births in Australia and found that the rate of birth defects was nearly double among babies conceived through IVF.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is the largest of its kind to examine the link between IVF and birth defects.
IVF is a procedure in which eggs are fertilized with sperm outside of the body. The fertilized eggs are then implanted in the woman’s uterus.
The procedure is used when couples are unable to conceive a child through traditional methods.
Previous studies have suggested that IVF may be associated with an increased risk of birth defects, but the data has been conflicting.
The new study found that the overall rate of birth defects was 2.4 percent among babies conceived through IVF, compared to 1.2 percent among babies conceived without IVF.
The most common defects among IVF babies were those of the heart, followed by defects of the genitourinary system and the nervous system.
The study also found that the risk of birth defects was higher among twins and triplets conceived through IVF.
The risk of birth defects was also higher among babies conceived with donor eggs or sperm.
The study authors say the findings “support the need for counseling of patients who are considering IVF.”
They say couples should be aware of the “possible increased risk” of birth defects before making the decision to conceive through IVF.