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Originally published July 24 2013

IVF treatment proven to increase risk of birth defects in children

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) If you are considering in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a pregnancy option for infertility, you may want to first consult with your doctor in light of emerging research on the potential side effects of this prospectively risky treatment. According to research recently presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana, certain IVF procedures are linked to causing a 25 percent increased risk of birth defects compared to normal birth.

A team of researchers from California evaluated data on more than 50,000 infants, 4,795 of whom were born via assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF. Comparatively, the two groups of infants were born to mothers of similar demographics, and researchers accounted for any other differences such as how many times a mother had already given birth, and whether or not an infant was born as part of a multiple birth, by adjusting the data accordingly.

After processing the data in accordance with these adjustments, the researchers determined that children born as a result of IVF were significantly more likely to have birth defects compared to naturally conceived infants (nine percent vs. 6.6 percent). Specifically, IVF babies were more likely to have malformations of the eyes (0.3 percent vs. 0.2 percent), heart (five percent vs. three percent), and genitourinary system (1.5 percent vs. one percent), among other problems.

"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, lead author of the study from the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. "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."

Researchers are unsure as to why IVF is linked to more birth defects than normal, especially because no birth defect increase was observed among babies born via artificial insemination or ovulation induction, which are two other primary forms of assisted reproductive technology. Only IVF, which involves removing eggs from the woman, fertilizing them with sperm in a petri dish, and transplanting them back into the womb, was found to be potentially problematic.

In an earlier study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that several other assisted reproductive technologies besides IVF are also linked to increased birth defects. Both intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and ovulation stimulation medications were linked to a higher birth defect rate compared to normal births.

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