Reproductive technologies

Sadly the success of IVF in producing a successful pregnancy and baby are less than 35% on average, higher for younger women and lower for older couples. IVF is also more risky for couples than falling pregnant naturally and has particular impact on the short and long term health of the child. IVF is an important service for those couples who have physical reasons for being unable to fall pregnant naturally. However many couples are directed to IVF as their first option for dealing with subfertility. This perhaps could be reconsidered given the success of natural approaches and the following risks associated with reproductive technologies. The positive news if you do need to use this approach to conceive is that natural fertility methods can enhance your success and improve the health of both the parent and the child in the process.

  • Babies born on assisted reproductive programs have a much higher incidence of prematurity and congenital abnormalities, and are more likely to die in infancy.
  • Assisted conception has almost twice the miscarriage rate, three time the premature birth rate, 20 times the multiple births, 4 to 5 times the low birth weight rate, 3 times the perinatal death rate and twice the major abnormality occurrence compared to the general population.
  • There is an increased incidence of long term neurological handicaps. Some of these involve learning and coordination more apparent when the child starts education.
  • According to a Swedish study, children born after IVF have three times the rate of cerebral palsy compared with children in the general population. This was singletons and multiple births (Lancet, 2002;359:459-60, 461-5)
  • IVF babies twice as likely to have a birth defect
  • The study team from UWA compared birth records or children born by IVF of sperm injection with those conceived naturally. They discovered that 8.6% of babies conceived by sperm injection and 9% of IVF babies had major defects apparent after one year compared to 4.2% of those conceived naturally.
  • The researchers found that those who had undergone assisted conception were likely to suffer multiple defects. This result could be due to the aging egg or the fertility drugs, or the process of freezing and thawing eggs, sperm and embryos (N Engl J Med, 2002 346:725-30)



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