April 12, 2024

Birth defect risk higher for IVF babies

”A public health issue,” French scientists say

In the largest-ever study of IVF birth
defects, French researchers have found that more than 4% of all IVF babies have
major congenital malformations. This is almost double that of babies conceived
naturally, says clinical geneticist Geraldine Viot, of Paris’ Maternity Port
Royal Hospital, at a European Society of Genetics conference in Stockholm.

Despite the dangers, she thought that most
doctors working in fertility clinics in France would only tell couples about
the risks if they were asked specific questions.

According to a study published in 2009, the
number of babies born worldwide using ART rose from 219,000 annually in 2000 to
246,000 in 2002.

Viot’s research team surveyed births at 33
French fertility clinics between 2003 and 2007 – a total of 15,162 children.

Statistically, there was no difference
between the average age of parents of babies with abnormalities and other
parents who had used ART. Viot said more heart problems in ART babies partly
caused the higher rate of abnormalities, as well as abnormalities of the
urinary and reproductive systems.

A birth abnormality rate of this size, in
Viot’s view, should be seen as a “public health issue”. “It is important that
all doctors and also politicians are informed about this,” she said.

“We also need to follow up all
children born after ART and to put much more effort into trying to understand
which of the procedures involved is implicated in this problem.” ~ Reuters, Jun

Jared Yee
birth defects