IVF Complications and Birth Defects


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IVF is definitely a marvel of medical science & technology with shifting the fertilization from human body to a laboratory it has redefined the reproduction laws of Mother Nature. While IVF has brought joys of parenthood in the lives of many disadvantaged couples but every win comes with a couple of complications. In this article, we discuss the IVF complications and birth defects that, though rare, may occur.

Complications in IVF

  1. Multiple births are the major complication of IVF. This occurs because to increase the chances of success, more than one embryo will be transferred into the women’s womb. Multiple births may increase the risk of other complications like premature delivery, neonatal death, obstetrical complications and lower birth weight.
  2. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome may occur in females if hCG is used for stimulating maturation of ovarian follicles. It causes abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting due to swelling of ovaries. It can be treated with medication.
  3. There is a small chance of infection and damage to surrounding areas in bowel and bladder when eggs are retrieved using a needle.
  4. In certain rare cases, the fertilized egg may grow outside uterus in fallopian tubes. The condition is known as Ectopic or Tubal pregnancy and demands immediate abortion.
  5. Emotional & psychological troubles – When the stakes are high, the stress is increases. This is a basic human nature. Therefore, women mostly feel a range of emotional-psychological issues like depression and anxiety when undergoing IVF. You can discuss coping strategies with your counselor to overcome stress.
  6. Preterm delivery, C-section, maternal hemorrhage, gestational diabetes & hypertension may occur.
  7. Be assured – IVF does not make one vulnerable to cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer or breast cancer.

Birth defects resulting from IVF

Millions of women are turning to IVF for getting pregnant and completing their families. Birth defects may occur but the incidence are not alarming as compared to babies which are conceived naturally.

In general population, the risk of birth defects in a child born through IVF is only 2-3%.

The use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may cause inherent sex chromosomal abnormalities especially in the male offspring like improper development of penis or sperms. Other common birth defects seen in babies born through IVF are cerebral palsy which interfere with normal development of motor and physical development of the infants; cleft lip, heart defects or hip dysplasia. Research studies are being carried out to monitor the long-term health of babies born through IVF. The excessive doses of hormones during IVF procedure cause dangers of birth defects. Maternal age and causes of infertility also play a greater role in causing birth defects.

To reiterate what was said earlier, the chances of complications and birth defects are not a cause of worry for those undergoing IVF treatment because they may happen in case of natural births also. With advances in the medical science technology the incidence of such cases have been on decline. IVF-born babies are as much healthy and happy as those though natural conception. You can discuss your concerns and doubts with an IVF specialist or counselor.

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