Monday, 7 May 2012

Study finds IVF link to birth defects

Heather Kennett,From: Sunday Herald Sun,May 06, 2012 12:00AM

THE risk of major birth defects in babies conceived using commonly available fertility treatments is nearly double compared with those conceived naturally, a world-first study by Australian researchers has found.

Groundbreaking Adelaide University research has shown that the risk for couples using IVF is 7.2 per cent, compared with a 5.8 per cent risk for babies conceived naturally.
But when sperm is injected into an egg - a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection used to overcome male infertility - there is a 9.9 per cent risk of birth defects.
And yet it found that freezing embryos substantially reduced the risk of birth defects, including cerebral palsy and heart and muscle conditions, particularly for the sperm injection treatment.
Another major finding in the study, to be published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, was the discovery of a tripling of the risk in women using a widely available low-cost fertility treatment - the steroid clomiphene citrate - to stimulate ovulation at home, without the supervision of a clinic.
The research linked a census of more than 6100 assisted conception births to South Australia's registry of 308,974 births and 18,000 recorded birth defects between 1986 and 2002.
It also compared the risk of birth defects across all infertility treatments with pregnancies in women with no record of infertility, making it the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.
The findings come as the use of assisted reproductive technology in Australia doubled over the five years to 2009, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Michael Davies said, though the majority of births resulting from assisted conception were free of birth defects, the study aimed to examine the differences in risks between available treatment and allow couples to make more informed decisions.
"For IVF (7.2 per cent), we were able to largely discount the apparent increased risk that is there in the crude data and we can explain that excess of risk purely in terms of patient characteristics such as maternal age and being overweight."
Melbourne IVF medical director Dr Lyndon Hale said the jury was still out on whether birth defects were caused by the actual IVF technology or there were inherent problems in the infertile population.
"The study didn't control for the fertile-versus-infertile population, so infertile people may somehow have more of these problems as opposed to the treatment causing the problems," Dr Hale said.
"The findings will make couples more worried, but it's part of our consent process that we advise them of all the risks."
- with Brigid O'Connell
Originally published HERE
Detailed article can be found HERE

Further reading :

Higher Risk of Birth Defects from Assisted Reproduction, Study Suggests -

'Birth defect link' to IVF injections -

Link Between ICSI Fertility Procedure, Birth Defects Discovered -

Fertility injections linked to birth defects -

Picture Emerging on Genetic Risks of IVF -

Child health problems linked to IVF -

Study links fertility treatment, birth defect risk -