Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Researchers have found from a large scale study that in vitro fertilization of IVF is associated with an increased risk of birth defects in the baby. They urge doctors treating patients with infertility to routinely warn them about these risks. The study involved 33 centers for IVF in France and covered over 15,000 births from 2003 to 2007. This study is the largest till date.
Lead researcher Geraldine Viot, from the Maternite Port Royal Hospital in Paris, said: “We found a major congenital malformation in 4.24% of the children, compared with the 2-3% that we had expected from previous published studies...This higher rate was due in part to an excess of heart diseases and malformations of the uro-genital system. This was much more common in boys. Among the minor malformations, we found a five times higher rate of angioma, benign tumors made up of small blood vessels on or near the surface of the skin. These occurred more than twice as frequently in girls than in boys.” She revealed these alarming statistics at a presentation at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Genetics in Gothenburg, Sweden.
She said that all couples who volunteer for the procedure need to be warned. At present only those who come up with questions are given the details on risks. She said this was a “public health issue” and doctors and politicians should sit up and take notice. She also said that earlier studies have claimed 11% chance of birth defects in babies so born but the actual picture may be different. “Given that our study is the largest to date, we think that our data are more likely to be statistically representative of the true picture,” said Dr Viot.