Fertility Treatment Linked With Major Birth Defects
A new study has found that fertility treatment can lead to major birth defects. Reuters

Fertility treatment can lead to major birth defects, according to a new study.

University of Adelaide researchers have identified the risk of major birth defects associated with different types of assisted reproductive technology.

Researchers analysed more than 300,000 birth records and compared birth defects in pregnancy with women who had opted for fertility treatment and women who conceived naturally.

They found that women who used fertility treatment had 8.3 per cent births defects compared to women who conceived naturally.

"The unadjusted risk of any birth defect in pregnancies involving assisted conception was 8.3 per cent (513 defects), compared with 5.8 per cent for pregnancies not involving assisted conception (17,546 defects)," said Michael Davies, professor at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute, in a statement.

Researchers also compared the risk of major birth defects for each of the reproductive therapies commonly available internationally, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and ovulation induction. They also compared the risk of birth defects after fresh and frozen embryo transfer.

Researchers found that birth defects were higher in the ICSI method compared to IVF. They found 9.9 per cent of children who were born using the ICSI method had birth defects, whereas 7.2 per cent who were born using the IVF method had birth defects.

"A history of infertility, either with or without assisted conception, was also significantly associated with birth defects. While factors associated with the causes of infertility explained the excess risk associated with IVF, the increased risk for a number of other treatments could not readily be explained by patient factors. ICSI, for instance, had a 57% increase in the odds of major defect, although the absolute size of the risk remained relatively small," Davies said.

The study found that cryopreservation method or freezing of embryos was associated with a substantially reduced risk of birth defects, particularly for ICSI. "This may be due to developmentally compromised embryos failing to survive the freeze/thaw process," Davis added.

Worldwide, more than three million babies are born annually as a result of assisted reproductive technology. So it is important for parents to know the pros and cons of using fertility treatment, says researchers

They believe that further study about recent reproductive technologies has to done because as years pass by technology keeps updating and it is important to know the risks involved in using new methods.

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