Are There Birth Defect Risks with Assisted Reproductive Techniques Such as IVF?

Patients who undergo assisted reproductive techniques (ART) are putting themselves at an increased risk for the occurrence of birth defects. There are a number of factors contributing to the risk the most common ART in use is in vitro fertilization, and there are multiple complications that can occur within this process that could lead to birth defects in the infant.

Damage to the egg

During the extraction process there is a risk for damage occurring to the oocyte (egg), albeit a small chance. Since eggs are extracted via piercing the follicle and gathering them with suction, it is possible for the egg to either be punctured or deformed by the tube.IVF Denver

This could lead to birth defects if the egg is used as a viable candidate. During the fertilization process there is also risk of damage occurring to the egg when the injection needle is inserted for the delivery of a sperm. Injury to the egg during this fertilization process can go unnoticed prior to the use of the embryo in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle leading to increased risks of defects.

Premature birth

One aspect of many ART treatments is the risk for multiple pregnancies and the complications that come with these. IVF methods rely on implanting multiple embryos to increase the chances of a pregnancy, it is possible for there to be multiple eggs implanting at the same time. Often, when this multiple pregnancy occurs, the resulting fetuses are born prematurely. Premature births due to IVF have an increased chance of complications including delays in developmental ability.

Chromosomal abnormalities

Sometimes during the standard IVF treatment, a process called Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used in which a single extracted sperm from the male partner will be injected into each egg for fertilization. It is possible that during this process the extracted sperm is of less than ideal potency, which may produce chromosomal abnormalities in the resulting embryo. There are three specific defects that may occur in the resulting infant as a result of ICSI: Angelman syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, and Hypospadias.

Fertility Clinic DenverRisks to the mother

In addition to the potentially numerous risks of birth complications to the infant as the result of an ART treatment, there is also risk to the mother due to the substantial hormonal treatments she has to undergo. A multiple fetus pregnancy also poses an increased risk of complications to both the mother and the infant.


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