Birth Defect Rates Vary Depending on Fertility Treatment

Researchers not sure if technology or biology is the cause


Mother's arm cradles an hour-old baby girl.

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"There are now over 5 million human beings around the world that have been created through reproductive technologies, most of whom would not have existed," Hershlag said.

Dr. Glenn Schattman, president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, said in a society statement that "women with a history of infertility who did not undergo assisted reproduction technology treatments also had a higher increase of having children with birth defects."

He added that "some results in this study are reassuring for patients: in cycles not including ICSI, the adjusted odds ratio for IVF-conceived children did not show a significant difference in birth defects, and children born following embryo freezing had no higher risk of birth defects than naturally conceived children."

Dr. David Cohen, chief of reproductive medicine and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago, added that the risk is something prospective parents need to accept.

"The risk doesn't cause patients to not go ahead, it causes them to think twice. In the end most people proceed," Cohen said.

More information

For more information on assisted reproduction, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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