As with any medical treatment, experts are continually reevaluating the safety of IVF and looking for ways to make it more safe. One area of concern has been the possibility of a link between IVF and birth defects. Although certain studies have suggested a link between IVF and birth defects, differences in the population using IVF vs. the general population are likely the main cause of the correlation. In addition, the best fertility clinics employ methods to prevent birth defects.
About IVF and Birth Defects
People going through IVF have typically struggled with infertility for some time, and are not as reproductively healthy as people who do not go through IVF. In addition, people seeking fertility treatment tend to be older, and age is associated with a greater risk of problems with eggs, sperm, and pregnancy. These factors most likely contribute to any higher rates of birth defects among patients who go through IVF.
Ways to Reduce the Risk of Birth Defects
IVF doctors can take steps to reduce the risk of birth defects in IVF patients; however, the risk of birth defects can never be completely eliminated. At IVF1, patients have the ability to screen embryos for abnormalities prior to being transferred back to the uterus. The embryologist evaluates whether or not the embryos appear to be developing normally and whether they have the correct number of chromosomes.
For patients with a family history of genetic disorders or birth defects related to a specific gene, it is possible to perform preimplantation genetic testing (PGD), which can screen for certain genes and chromosomal abnormalities that could lead to disease or birth defects. PGD is also recommended for couples with a history of recurrent miscarriage.
Ultimately, there is no way to completely eliminate the chances of birth defects, even with our ever-advancing reproductive technologies. However, the vast majority of babies are born healthy whether or not IVF is used, and there is always a risk of birth defects even when a baby is conceived naturally. For most couples, the desire to start a family far outweighs the concerns about the potential to have a child with birth defects.
Dr. Randy Morris would be happy to meet with you about whether IVF is right for you. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or call IVF1 at (630) 357-6540.