The Risks of IVF on Babies

Over the past 32 years, there have been literally millions of children conceived through the assistance of medical technology (assisted reproduction). Since IVF treatments have become more and more common over the years, many studies have been conducted to explore the possibility that children conceived through IVF treatment may have increased chances of being born with rare birth defects or health issues, both long-term and short-term.

Studies on IVF Risks to Babies

There are many conflicting studies stating that children conceived via IVF treatments are completely normal and suffer no additional health risks.  Other studies have raised significant concerns as to the health status of these children. One study conducted concluded that children conceived via IVF treatments were twice as likely to be born with major birth defects compared to children who were conceived naturally. Some of the major birth defects found include major heart defects and problems with urinary functions and genital tracts.

A second study conducted showed that children born through IVF treatments were twice as likely to be born underweight causing an increase in respiratory concerns and significant developmental delays. Additionally, a study done in January 2002 concluded that children suffering from Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome were, on average, five times more likely to have been conceived through IVF treatments or other unnatural methods of conception. This disease which typically affects one in 15,000 babies causes deformities such as an oversized tongue, enlarged internal organs, high birth weight and an increase chance in developing several different types of cancers. Other types of birth defects found in children conceived through IVF treatments include retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer, and rare urological birth defects. Another rare condition that has been linked to children born through IVF and other unnatural conception methods is Angelman Syndrome. This disease is rare condition that causes severe delays in speech and development.

What Does it All Mean?

While all of these conditions are rare to begin with even with a children born via IVF, they have been the most observed to in children conceived via assisted reproduction and IVF. However, because of the large number of children being conceived using IVF and other types of fertility treatments, and only a small percentage experiencing problems such as the ones mentioned above, most children born via IVF are just as normal as any child who was conceived naturally. These risks are extremely rare, both in children conceived naturally and through the help of medical technology, and while couples may be fearful of the side effects of IVF, the most important thing to remember is that these defects and abnormalities are rare among all children regardless of what conception method was used.  Therefore, the increased risk posed by IVF for these birth defects should not deter parents from deciding to undergo IVF as a method of conception.

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