IVF and Birth Defects

Birth Defects and IVF

Birth-Defects-IVFEvery so often, we receive questions about the risks of birth defects associated with IVF. It is a well known fact that birth defects are more common after certain infertility treatments. Nevertheless, the connection between fertility treatments and birth defects is not clear.

According to a study recently published in New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of any birth defect associated with Assisted Reproductive Technology, or ART, is 8.3 percent compared with 5.8 percent for unassisted pregnancies. Moreover, for IVF cycles using Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), the risk was 9.9 percent. The risk of birth defects for IVF cycles without ICSI was 7.2 percent. And women who used Clomid to stimulate ovulation had triple the risk of birth defects.

Interestingly, it appears that a history of infertility may be the cause of the increased risk. Therefore, the excess risk for IVF could be explained by factors such as age and/or weight. For example, most people who resort to the use of fertility treatments are older than those who have children on their own. Older patients naturally have a greater risk of having a child with birth defects. Consequently, when one takes age and other factors into account, IVF no longer poses an increased risk.

The connection between ICSI and increased birth defects is purported to be possibly genetic. IVF cycles requiring ICSI are typically cases associated with male infertility. ICSI allows an egg to be fertilized with a single sperm that may have defective DNA. Studies also show that using frozen embryos greatly reduces the risk of birth defects associated with ICSI. The good news is with latest advances in technology, your fertility doctor may be able to select normal embryos without genetic defects. Tests such as PGD and CCS allow to do just that.

More than 90 percent of in vitro fertilization babies are born normal. Of those who are born with defects, many of those defects are very minor and correctable. These defects include cleft palate, and heart, gastrointestinal and esophageal defects.


Read what what our clients have to say about their experiences with our IVF clinics and fertility doctors.

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