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IVF offers a wonderful opportunity to get pregnant for numerous families who could not conceive naturally, but is it really a safe fertility treatment?

More and more research about the negative side effects of IVF are coming to light, including an increased risk of birth defects. A new study from Sweden now reveals that women who undergo IVF have a higher chance of developing blood clots and blockages.  

Research from the Karolinska Institute, published in the British Medical Journal, shows that women who got pregnant through IVF have a higher chance of developing pulmonary embolisms. A pulmonary embolisms is a blockage of a major artery in the lung. The risk of blood clots during the first trimester of pregnancy is also higher for women who got pregnant through IVF. The research team took a closer look at 23,498 women who got pregnant with the help of invitro fertilization, as well as 116.960 women who conceived naturally. The average age of these women was 33 years, and they gave birth between 1990 and 2008. The risk of a pulmonary embolism was found to be slightly higher in the IVF group 4.2 per 1000 compared to 2.2 per 1000. The risk of blood clots during the first trimester was 1.5 in the IVF group vs 0.3 in the natural conception group.

Peter Henriksson, the study's lead author and a professor and chief physician at the Karolinska Institute, discussed his findings with Fox news. He was quoted as saying: "...you have to stimulate the follicles of the ovaries to get the eggs to harvest. The estrogen levels increase, and high estrogen levels are linked with increased propensity of blood to coagulate." In other words, there may very well be a completely scientific explanation for the more frequent occurrence of blood clots among women who received IVF. Henriksson explained why blood clots cab be be so dangerous. He said: ."If a part of that blood clot breaks, circulation will carry that blood clot to the right side of the heart and further on to the pulmonary artery.

And in the pulmonary artery, the blood clot could hinder circulation. If the clot is great or there are repeated emboli (blockage), then it could completely block circulation, and that is potentially very dangerous." What can we learn from this new study? It is, I think, a great reminder that there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding the short-term and long-term health effects of IVF, both for mothers and babies. So far, we know that the risk of certain cancers increases with some of the fertility drugs that are used during IVF cycles. We also know that there is a slight increase in the birth defect rate for IVF babies. IVF has only been around for three decades, and that is not long enough at all to show what kind of long-term impact this fertility treatment will have. This new study may only show a slight increase in certain risks, but it may offer a great opportunity to take another look IVF, and its possible risks.

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