IVF Babies May be at Risk for Stillbirth

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

New research has found that that women who conceive through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) have a four-fold risk of stillbirth compared to women who conceive naturally.

The study, published in Europe’s premier reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction, involved a large cohort of 20,166 Dutch women who became pregnant for the first time with one baby. Out of this total, 16,525 (82%) were conceived spontaneously after less than 12 months, 2,020 (10%) after more than a year of trying, 879 (4%) conceived after non-IVF fertility treatment and 742 (4%) conceived after IVF/ICSI.

The rate of stillbirth in women who conceived with IVF was 16.2 per thousand, compared to 2.3 per thousand among those who conceived with other forms of infertility treatment, 3.7 per thousand who got pregnant naturally within a year and 5.4 per thousand who became pregnant naturally after more than a year of trying.

That was the case after taking into consideration other factors that may have contributed to the stillbirths, such as age, weight, smoking, drinking, coffee intake and education, the researchers said.

However, the authors of the study say these results should be interpreted carefully.

Dr. Kirsten Wisborg, who led the study, said: “It is important to remember that the risk of stillbirth is still very low among women pregnant after IVF/ICSI. At this stage we do not know whether the increased risk in women pregnant after IVF/ICSI is due to the fertility treatment or to unknown factors pertaining to couples who undergo IVF/ICSI. This needs further investigation.”
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