IVF babies more prone to defects - study

2012-05-05 14:30

Paris - Children conceived with the aid of fertility treatments are more likely to be born with serious physical defects, according an Australian study published on Saturday.

Conception using treatments like ovulation induction, in-vitro fertilisation or the injection of sperm directly into an egg, resulted in serious defects in 8.3% of cases studied, the research team said.

The corresponding ratio in spontaneous conceptions was 5.8% - a "very" significant difference, lead researcher Michael Davies told AFP of the University of Adelaide study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Something that is not often talked about in the clinic, I suspect, is the risk of having an abnormal baby. And so this emphasises this is something that must be talked about between patients and clinicians.

"They must discuss the risk for this when choosing the treatment."

Davies, from the university's Robinson Institute for fertility, said the research had focused on serious defects, "things that either require treatment or if there is no treatment they are going to be considered handicapping", like a heart condition or cerebral palsy.

The study covered 308 974 births registered in South Australia between January 1986 and December 2002, of which 6 163 had resulted from assisted conception.

"I don't think there is any reason it wouldn't be applicable to the majority of clinics around the world," said Davies, calling for further research.


More than 3.7 million babies are born every year as a result of fertility treatment.

The survey, which researchers said was the most comprehensive of its kind yet, found that not all treatments were equally risky.

The scientists noted birth defects in 7.2% of children born from in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and 9.9% from intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

For IVF, the percentage dropped significantly when taking into consideration factors like parental age, smoking and other factors, but for ICSI it remained high.

ICSI, in which a sperm cell is injected directly into an egg, is a form of IVF - which involves the fertilisation of an egg outside the body, in a laboratory.

Davies said there were several theories on why ICSI was more risky - possibly involving the use of damaged sperm or damage caused by manipulation of the sperm and egg in the lab.

With IVF, the sperm entered the egg of its own accord.

"There are factors associated with ICSI that require further research," he said.

The researchers also found a tripling of risk in women using clomiphene citrate, a drug for ovulation induction.

"While confined to a small group in our study, this is of particular concern as clomiphene citrate is now very widely available at low cost," said Davies.

  • thembisile.jiyane - 2012-05-05 20:31

    Twist Gods creation Docs ths is wat ul gt

      Bob - 2012-05-05 21:53

      You are dumb.

      Mirrorman - 2012-05-06 05:47

      Badly put, but he has a point. Bottom line is that we are tampering with nature (which is God-created). We do not know enough about how Nature deals with reproduction. Problem is we think we do.

  • gailcarolynhayes - 2012-05-06 10:38

    Good study! The reason that Doctors are in favour of creating life artificially without KNOWING the risks or CARING but against ENDING life in those where there is only degeneration and indignity for as long as they can keep them alive is MONEY. Bottom line. If you take a Hippocratic Oath you swear to "First do no harm". There is NO WAY these Doctors can be sure that the methods they use to create life will do no harm to the resultant child. Think of multiple births for eg. and imagine the repercussions that has not only on the babies but also on the parents long term. The first sextuplets which were carried by their grandmother - big fanfare all around. Where are they now? Their parents ended up divorcing and divorce is hard enough for children individually when they are conceived naturally, imagine the fallout when there are 6 children and the therapy and damage done. No amount of insurance or damages will set that right. Doctors of all specialities get rich as a result of these innocent children who without doctors were not meant to be born. Yet they are against abortion and euthanasia because it is inexpensive and once off money gone. If parents give birth to a severely defective child it is the parents right and the Doctors duty to ensure they look ahead before they decide to choose to keep that child which will NEVER live without medical intervention. I admire the parents who accept the responsibility and care for that helpless living being but they will die and then

      gailcarolynhayes - 2012-05-06 20:22

      Mememan. Let us not forget that resources such as land and water are dwindling and the ultimate winner here is nature, You can't drink profit when the water is all gone. No amount of money will restore water to an overpopulated earth and Doctors and scientists are responsible for all our ills supposedly for the good of mankind.This is where God comes in if you like Man believes He is God and has improved on nature when in fact Man/God has messed up.

  • Crracker - 2012-05-06 21:27

    Survival of the most adaptable. We see evolution playing itself out in practice. If on the other hand we see some divine, non-biological forced at work we will must ask a very simple question: Why overburden the planet? All those souls who had no say in their future battles for survival? A billion now in perpetual hunger? Many not even given the luxury of choice in their immediate surroundings to even pick the RIGHT supernatural entity as their leader. So they are in any event just DOOMED! From the start forever.

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