A new study has shown that the risk of serious complications such as stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight and neonatal death is around twice as high for babies conceived by assisted reproductive therapies compared with naturally conceived babies.
Researchers from the University’s Robinson Institute have compared the outcomes of more than 300,000 births in South Australia over a 17-year period. This included more than 4300 births from assisted reproduction.
They compared adverse birth events related to all forms of available treatment, including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), ovulation induction, and cryopreservation of embryos.
“Compared with spontaneous conceptions in couples with no record of infertility, singleton babies from assisted conception were almost twice as likely to be stillborn, more than twice as likely to be preterm, almost three times as likely to have very low birth weight, and twice as likely to die within the first 28 days of birth,” the study leader, Professor Michael Davies from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute, said.
The researcher said that these outcomes varied depending on the type of assisted conception used. Very low and low birth weight, very preterm and preterm birth, and neonatal death were markedly more common in births from IVF and, to a lesser degree, in births from ICSI.
It was found that using frozen embryos eliminated all significant adverse outcomes associated with ICSI but not with IVF. However, frozen embryos were associated with increased risk of macrosomia (big baby syndrome) for IVF and ICSI babies.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.