Researchers have found that certain types of in vitro fertilization carry a higher risk of birth defects than a natural conception. Fertility experts say that the new information should be provided to couples considering the treatment so that they are fully informed of the possible risks. The risk is specific to treatments in which a single sperm is injected into an egg, which is a common method.
Like other types of birth injuries, some of the problems with in vitro fertilization may be prevented through a close examination of the different variables and an elimination of some of the risks.
The researchers in this study implicated a number of possible factors that raise the rate of birth defects. Eggs and sperms may undergo more handling and jostling during this process which could potentially be causing damage. There is also a possibility that whether the egg has been frozen previously or not has an impact on the success of this type of treatment.
There may also be a higher risk because couples who seek IVF treatments often have one partner who is infertile or has difficulty with the conception process. A fertility specialist at Cornell University said that when male infertility is involved, doctors should warn patients of the risks of using their own genetic material to conceive.
The study suggests that overall both patients and doctors should exercise caution when choosing a fertility treatment. Doctors have a professional obligation to properly warn prospective parents about the likely outcomes and risks of any treatment.
Source: MSNBC, “Birth defect risk rises with some fertility treatments,” Marilynn Marchione, May 5, 2012.