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According to the recent studies, babies who are conceived through the use of fertility techniques, such as In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), are nearly 30% more likely to be born with a birth defect.
Scientists and researchers are not sure as to why there is an increased incidence of birth defects among babies conceived via IVF, however, there are several popular theories floating around the scientific and medical communities. Despite the new findings, researchers firmly believe that infertile couples who are trying to conceive will not be deterred from using fertility treatments in an attempt to get pregnant.

In addition, they may be at a greater risk for developing malformations of the limb or other organs. Minor birth defects include benign tumors called Angiomas, which cause clusters of blood vessels to form red growths on the skin. The increased risk of birth defects can run across many areas including the nervous system, the digestive system, the skeletal system or the genitals.

How High Is The Risk Compared To Non-IVF Babies?

When researchers took the data from more than 40 studies they found the risk of having a birth defect to be more than 30 percent higher than that of a pregnancy achieved without IVF or ICSI.  According to the U.S. Center For Disease Control, major birth defects occur in approximately 1 of every 100 births; that number jumps to 4 out of every 100 births when considering IVF and ICSI pregnancies. The instance of having a child with a minor birth defect is approximately 5 times higher among IVF and ICSI babies. Additionally, IVF often results in a multiple pregnancy. The risk of birth defects or abnormalities among multiples is generally higher.

Possible Causes Of Increased Birth Defect Risks

Even with all of the research and review, there is no clear-cut reason for a higher instance of birth defects among babies conceived through IVF, although there are several theories. Researchers speculate that the jostling of eggs and sperm during the procedures of IVF and ICSI may cause the birth defects. They believe that the artificial manipulation of these components may have some effect on birth defects. It has also been considered that the source of a couple’s infertility may also be to blame for birth defects.

Another thought is that birth defects seem to be more prevalent in IVF babies because they are so intently monitored, therefore slight abnormalities are found that may not have otherwise been detected in a traditional pregnancy. Doctors and researchers have also found that of these babies, abnormalities are found in both low birth weight babies as well as premature deliveries, and parental age at the time of conception seemed to have no bearing upon the incidence of birth defects. Further research is needed to find out why birth defects are occurring more among IVF and ICSI babies and to then attempt to reduce the risks.

While birth defects appear to be occurring more among IVF and ICSI pregnancies, the cause of this spike in abnormalities has not been determined. Further research is needed to say with certainty what the cause of the increased risk is. When couples agree to IVF as a means to conceive, they are notified of any risks associated with the procedure. For decades IVF has helped otherwise infertile couples achieve their dream of becoming parents. It is not likely that a rise in the risk of birth defects will deter future couples from utilizing IVF to achieve pregnancy.