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Birth Defect Risk With IVF
Sunday, May 6, 2012

A new study published in the New England Journal from Australia has reached the following conclusions: In Vitro Fertilization and embryo freezing do not increase the incidence of birth defects.  However they found that ICSI was associated with an increased incidence of birth defects.  The risk of birth defects was 5.8% following natural conception, 7.2% following standard IVF and 9.9% following IVF with ICSI.  Interestingly the risk of birth defect was lower following frozen embryo transfer perhaps due to the fact that the most normal embryos tend to survive freezing and thawing.  ICSI is used to treat male factor infertility and it is not known if the increase in birth defects is related to the sperm itself or the procedure.

Another important finding is that women with a history of infertility who conceived on their own had higher rates of birth defects.  This suggests that the infertile state is associated with a higher rate of birth defects regardless to whether pregnancy happens naturally or with treatment.  It is important to know that the vast majority of women who conceive with treatment have healthy normal babies.  This study looked at 300,000 babies conceived naturally and 6,163 conceived through treatment in Australia between 1986 and 2002.  This study is reassuring in that it shows that babies born from IVF are as healthy as thoses spontaneously conceived.  However there appears to be a small risk from ICSI which either originates from the procedure or charactheristics of the sperm or the infertile state itself.



 
 
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