According to Norwegian researchers, the increased risk of poor health outcomes among single infants conceived through assisted fertilization may be due to causes of infertility rather than the procedure itself.
According the study authors, in general, single babies that conceived using assisted fertilization have worse health outcomes than spontaneously conceived infants. However, this difference is much smaller among women who have conceived both spontaneously and with assisted fertilization.
The researchers analyzed data on 2,546 women who conceived at least one child spontaneously and another after assisted fertilization, and compared them to 1.3 million women who conceived spontaneously and 8,229 women who conceived through assisted fertilization.
The researchers discovered that assisted fertilization conceptions were associated with a 25-gram lower mean birth weight, a two-day shorter gestation, a 26 percent increased risk of being small for gestational age, and a 31 percent increased risk of prenatal death.
Among women who had one child spontaneously and another with assisted fertilization, assisted fertilization conceptions resulted in babies that were nine grams lighter and that had a 0.6-day shorter gestation. Both babies were almost equally small for gestational age. However, the spontaneously conceived baby had an almost three times greater risk of prenatal death than the assisted fertilization baby.
According to Dr. Liv Bente and colleagues concluded in a news release, gestational age, birth weight, and risks for small gestational age babies, and preterm delivery, did not differ among infants of women who had conceived both spontaneously and after assisted fertilization. In addition, the adverse outcomes of assisted fertilization that the researchers noted compared with those in the general population could therefore be attributable to the factors leading to infertility, rather than to factors related to the reproductive technology.
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