Egg donation uses the technology of in vitro fertilization – IVF to obtain eggs from one woman, the egg donor, fertilize them in the laboratory and then place the embryos into another woman, the recipient. Egg donation is most commonly used when the recipient is older and thus less likely to get pregnant using her own eggs.

Egg Donation, Complications and Age

Egg donation pregnancies have lower rates of complications such as miscarriage and Down's Syndrome since the egg donor is younger and therefore produces embryos with a lower rate of chromosomal abnormalities and thus lower rates of these problems. Some complications of pregnancy do not change with egg donation. These are problems that are based on the age of the recipient. As women age, they have a higher incidence of complications such as gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension, intrauterine growth restriction. Older women also deliver by cesarean section more commonly. The increased risks have been thought to occur equally whether or not a woman used egg donation to achieve the pregnancy.

Egg Donation Study

A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Coast Obstetrical and Gynecological Society has suggested for the first time that women who conceive by egg donation may be at higher risk for pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH). The study compared 50 egg donation pregnancies with 50 standard IVF pregnancies. The rate of pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) was more than three times higher in the egg donation group than in the standard IVF group (27% vs. 8%).

Pregnancy induced hypertension occurs more commonly during a woman's first pregnancy and in women with multiple pregnancies. When the study investigators looked only at women who were in their first pregnancy, the increase in risk seemed even greater. Thirty-seven percent of the egg donation pregnancies were affected compared to 8% in the standard IVF group. Among women who had twins, 58% of those in the egg donation group and 17% of the standard IVF group developed PIH.

Since age is also an important risk factor for predicting PIH, the investigators tried to determine whether the two groups of women were similar in their average age. all of the women were between the ages of 30 and 50. The average age in the egg donation group was 42, compared with 38 in the standard IVF group. However, special statistical tests were performed which allowed them to conclude that the egg donation itself still had an effect.

Other complications of pregnancy were not different between the egg donation group and the standard IVF group.

  • The cesarean-section rate was 43% in the egg donationgroup and 45% in the standard IVF group.
  • First-trimester bleeding occurred in 12% of the egg donationgroup and 14% in standard IVF.
  • Birth weight was an average of 3,044 g in the egg donation group and 3,017 g in standard IVF group
  • Premature labor occurred in the egg donation group to a similar extent as the standard IVF group.