IVF babies are more likely to suffer birth defects

Birth defects in IVF babies are almost twice as common as previously thought according to the latest study.

Couples who conceive through IVF are almost twice as likely to have a child born with major birth defects as opposed to those conceived naturally, according to a new study.

Researchers studied 33 fertility clinics in France, collecting data on 15,000 births from 2003 to 2007, and found a significantly higher risk of birth defects in IVF babies.

‘We found a major congenital malformation in 4.24% of the children, compared with 2-3% that we had expected from previous studies’ said Geraldine Viot, from the Maternite Port Royal Hospital who led the research.

Scientists are now calling on fertility clinics to routinely warn people seeking IVF of the increased risks involved.

‘This higher rate was due in part to an excess of heart diseases and malformations of the uro-genital system. This was much more common in boys,’ said Dr Viot.

‘Among the minor malformations, we found a five times higher rate of angioma, benign tumours made up of small blood vessels on or near the surface of the skin. These occurred more than twice as frequently in girls than in boys.’

However scientists are keen to insist that the overall risk is still low.

‘It is important that patients are informed about this by not alarmed by it,’ said a spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

More than 120,000 children in the UK have been born through IVF since it started in 1992.


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