April 14, 2024

IVF more deadly than abortion for women, says BMJ

While only two women
died as a result of having an abortion in Britain in 2007, seven died as
a direct result of IVF between 2003 and 2005, obstetricians have noted
in a recent BMJ editorial. This happened even
though there are only a quarter the number of IVF cycles as abortions,
according to Dr Susan Bewley, a consultant obstetrician at Guy’s and St
Thomas NHS Foundation Trust in London.

Four of the IVF deaths between 2003 and
2005 were from ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, brought on by
fertility-boosting drugs, while three were due to multiple pregnancies.
Dr Bewley and her colleagues wrote that systematic reporting should
occur for serious adverse health outcomes related to IVF, so that
lessons can be learnt and the appropriate action taken.

A recent study from
the Netherlands showed that overall IVF pregnancy mortality rates were
higher than overall mortality rates in the general population of the
Netherlands. There were 42 deaths per 100,000 IVF pregnancies as opposed
to 6 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies overall. UK results have confirmed

Dr Bewley and her colleagues point out that
in the developing world, women die as a result of complications from
excess fertility and unsafe abortion, but that in post-industrial
societies, infertility treatment now poses a higher risk of maternal
death. While IVF is very safe in the UK, the authors of the editorial
argue that better information about the risks of fertility treatment is
needed, better identification of women at high risk, and more single
embryo transfer as the norm to prevent disability and death. ~ BMJ 2011; 2011;
; London Telegraph,
Jan 28

Jared Yee