IVF (In vitro
fertilization) single babies are twice as likely to be still-born, suffer birth
defects or die within 28 days, than those conceived naturally, warns a new
study. The researchers reached this claim through an analysis of records from
more than 300,000 births that took place in Australia between 1986 and 2002.
However it is too premature to place all the blame on IVF
; the adversities may be because of other reasons such as
health problems, or older age that caused couples to be infertile in the first
Davies, who led the team of researchers at the University of Adelaide says,
"There is in all likelihood a contribution from both the treatment and
patient factors. We have very unfriendly work practices that mean families
defer child-bearing until women are relatively old, and that is tragic."
point to be considered is that the study period was between 1986 and 2002, i.e.
more than a decade old; IVF technology and clinical procedures have advanced a
lot since then.
need to add more data to see if the improvements in embryology
and clinical treatment over the past five to 10 years have flowed through to
improve these perinatal outcomes. That is quite plausible, but we do not
rose from 4.7% in naturally conceived babies to 8% in those
born to couples who had IVF. Neonatal deaths rose from 0.3% in naturally
conceived babies to 0.5% in IVF children, according to the study.
is hard to find out how much damage is due to the treatment itself; the
parents' health or lifestyles may be important. Women undergoing IVF treatment
usually are ones who have already gone through multiple other treatment, no one
knows if these 'other treatments' are responsible for the aftermath.
know this group of women tend to use a drug called clomiphene citrate for infertility
It's a very common, very cheap drug, but its adverse consequences have not been
terribly well studied. We are now extremely keen to investigate this," says Davies.
More clarity is yet to be available; the current
claim however points to the 'urgent need' to track the long-term health of
babies born through IVF.