Birth Defects Related to Fertility Techniques

November 18, 2008

(ChattahBox) — Researchers have found that infants conceived as a result of infertility techniques are likely to have more birth defects as compared to those conceived naturally. Babies produced with Assisted Reproductive Technology are two to four times more likely to have certain types of heart defects, cleft lips or gastro-intestinal defects as compared to naturally conceived babies. ART refers to the technology of giving birth to babies where the eggs from the woman are removed and mated with sperms in a laboratory. The embryo or the egg is again returned to the woman’s womb or donated to another woman.

The results released on Monday were a part of studies conducted by US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The effect was seen on singleton births as multiple births already have increased risk for birth defects.

“Today, more than one percent of infants are conceived through ART, and this number may continue to increase. While the risk is low, it is still important for parents who are considering using ART to think about all of the potential risks and benefits of this technology,” Jennita Reefhuis, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in an agency news release. She added that her study linked the procedures to the birth defect but it did not explain the reason or prove the connection. She also stated that none of the birth defects were lethal either.

Dr Grifo, Director of one of the fertility clinics said that more research was required as the current tests were conducted on 281 women who had fertility procedures. She also said that the underlying cause was more linked to patient’s infertility than to the treatments. “The results are concerning, but with this small a sample of patients, a bigger study would need to be done,” Dr. Grifo said. “And the fact that they see it in singletons, not in twins, makes it hard for me to think this is a direct relationship,” said Dr. Grifo.


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