IVF not associated with increased risk of birth defects
A large-scale Australian study published in BJOG may finally take away the worries of thousands of women who turn to IVF when trying for a baby. According to the study, In Vitro Fertilisation does not increase the risk of birth defects. On the contrary, the risk of congenital abnormalities in women over 40 years of age is lower after IVF treatment than for natural conceptions.
These valuable conclusions come from a large-scale retrospective study carried out at the University of Adelaide. Researches evaluated data from more than 300,000 births in South Australia from 1986 to 2002. The study population consists of more than 4,000 births after IVF treatment. In particular, 2,200 children were born following classic IVF and 1,600 following ICSI.
The key finding of the study is that women over 40 have much lower possibility of giving birth to children with congenital abnormalities following IVF compared to natural conception.
Moreover, the study showed that there is no connection between IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) and congenital abnormalities in newborns, particularly in women over the age of 35.
“This affirmation vindicates IVF procedures unlike previous studies which suggested that IVF itself was the cause of a slight increase of congenital abnormalities in children born after treatment”, explains Dr Harry C. Hiniadis, Obstetrician –Gynaecologist specialised in IVF and Laparoscopy, associate in the IVF unit at MITERA Maternity Hospital (http://www.hiniadis.com)
“Further on, another key finding of the study was that congenital abnormalities are due to three main causes:
1. mother’s age
2. mother’s smoking
3. number of children born previously
On the other hand, the study showed that women who:
• do not smoke
• do not drink alcohol
• do not take drugs
• take folic acid and vitamin D
are more likely to give birth to children without congenital abnormalities.
Moreover, the study revealed that women who have one or two children from previous pregnancies have lower possibilities of giving birth to a child with congenital abnormalities and this is quite natural as these women are proved to be more fertile and therefore have a normal personal history.
“It is important to point out that this particular study goes back 30 years and answers a big question which almost all parents-to-be make when they come to our practice for IVF treatment: is their child likely to develop chromosomal or genetic abnormalities. Some people might think that what we do in the lab is more of a game; that we over-handle eggs and sperm to such a degree that we jeopardise the quality of the genetic material. In this case, studies have shown that genetic material is handled according to international standards not affecting the possibility of birth defects. The study proves that handing is safe for the embryos and it has always been so, even 15 years ago”, says Dr Hiniadis.
To sum up, the doctor adds that “this study is one of many others that have followed closely the neurological and psychokinetic development of children born after IVF up to the age of seven. Such studies have shown that these children, all very precious to their parents who kept trying for years to achieve conception and bring a chid to the world, enjoy endless attention and support in education, development and social inclusion and seem to benefit from a psychokinetic advantage compared to children of the general population”.
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