Analysis

Study: Pregnancies via assisted reproductive technology carry higher risk of complications

IVF sperm donor

A study of 34 million hospital births recently found that women who create a pregnancy through IVF or fertility treatment have a higher risk of pregnancy complications, including premature birth, than women who did not conceive in this manner. According to CNN, “The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, compared more than 106,000 deliveries in which the baby was conceived with assisted reproductive technology to more than 34 million births conceived without such aid.”

Dr. Pensée Wu, senior lecturer and honorary consultant obstetrician and subspecialist in maternal fetal medicine at Keele University School of Medicine, headed the research team. According to a press release, this is the first population-based study of its kind, as well as the largest analysis to consider both pregnancy outcomes and vascular complications for women who have conceived using assisted reproductive technology (ART). The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research, and the Blumenthal Scholarship in Preventive Cardiology at Johns Hopkins.

Women who conceived using assisted reproductive technology like IVF were more than twice as likely to experience kidney failure and had a 65% higher risk of an irregular heartbeat. They were also 57% more likely to have a placental abruption, which is when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus. Depending on the severity, it can be a life-threatening condition. Additionally, women who conceived through ART were 38% more likely to need a c-section, and 26% more likely to have a premature delivery.

READ: Adoption, IVF, and surrogacy: What pro-lifers need to know

“We were surprised that assisted reproductive technology was independently associated with these complications, as opposed to being associated with only the existence of pre-existing health conditions or only among older women undergoing infertility treatment,” Wu told CNN. However, in a critique of the study, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist Dr. Sigal Klipstein told CNN she did not find it surprising.

“A woman requiring a short course of fertility pills in order to conceive and a woman requiring multiple cycles of IVF were all lumped together in this study,” Klipstein said. “It is often the underlying infertility, and not the fertility treatment, that is associated with worse outcomes.”

Klipstein’s point may be valid, but there have been numerous complications potentially linked to IVF. Children conceived through IVF are more likely to have low birth weight, higher blood pressure, hormonal imbalances and advanced bone age, cardiovascular issues and cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, leukemia and other cancers, and infertility. This is all in addition to the millions of lives created and then destroyed in the pursuit of engineering a child.

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