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IVF Babies and Major Birth Defects

Researchers Say Risk of Serious Birth Defects Is Similar to What Is Seen Among Natural Conceptions

Low Overall Risk of Birth Defects With IVF

Zev Rosenwaks, MD, the director of Perelman/Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, tells WebMD that more information is needed before any conclusions can be drawn about risks associated with assisted reproductive technology.

The rate of multiple pregnancies is often higher in children born after fertility treatment, he says. “Multiples have higher rates of abnormalities, and this may have affected the findings,” he says.

Counseling about possible risks associated with fertility treatment and informed consent are an important part of the fertility treatment process, he says.

“On our first visit, we review the risks,” he says. “I tell them they have to basically look at what their risk truly is and then determine whether they would choose not to have a baby or choose to have a baby despite a possible increased risk of certain birth defects.”

Not all birth defects are considered serious, he says.

“Angioma is a minor abnormality that can disappear,” he says.

“Even in the worst case scenario, the risk [of birth defects] is low,” says Jamie Grifo, MD, PhD, program director of New York University Fertility Center in New York City. “Your risk may be higher because you are infertile or because you are being treated for infertility, but it is still a low number,” he tells WebMD.

“The risks are about the same that you take getting pregnant at home in bed and no one gives informed consent for that,” he says. “Discuss your concerns with your doctor, but don’t be alarmed. Understand the risks and make decisions based on these risks. There are millions of babies and millions of parents who would not be parents if not for reproductive technology."

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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