In-vitro fertilization (IVF), which came as a boon to infertile couples, is not without its flip side too, particularly birth defects, says new research.
Increasing birth defect risks, particularly of the eye, heart, reproductive organs and urinary systems, for instance, could be linked to IVF, a link that is poorly understood despite the growing popularity of IVF.
“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 study author Lorraine Kelley-Quon.
Kelley-Quon is general surgery resident at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center. She conducted the research at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.
Management of birth defects comprises a large part of paediatric surgical care and demands significant health care resources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says California has the highest rate of IVF usage in the US, according to a UCLA statement.
Researchers examined infants born between 2006 and 2007 after IVF and other treatments such as fertility-enhancing drugs or artificial insemination.
Overall, 3,463 infants with major birth defects were identified among 4,795 infants born after IVF and 46,025 naturally conceived infants with similar maternal demographics.
Birth defects were significantly increased for infants born after IVF — nine percent versus 6.6 percent for naturally conceived infants, even after controlling for maternal factors.
Specifically, malformations of the eye (0.3 percent versus 0.2 percent), heart (five percent versus 3 percent), and genito-urinary system (1.5 percent versus 1 percent) were greater in IVF infants.