CDC Study: Birth Defects More Likely in Children Born From In-Vitro Fertilization
by Steven Ertelt
November 18, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A Centers for Disease Control study finds children born from in-vitro fertilization are two to four times more likely to be born with birth defects than children born naturally. The study provides more concerns for pro-life advocates who oppose the practice of artificially creating children.
Despite the increase in risk, Jennita Reefhuis, a CDC epidemiologist who was the lead author of the study, says the risk associated with assisted reproductive technology (ART) is still relatively low.
"The most important findings were that for infants conceived using ART, we see an increased risk for certain birth defects," she said.
That includes the finding that children born from ART have twice the risk of septal heart defects, more than twice the risk of a cleft palate, and four times the risk of gastrointestinal defects.
The CDC study compared hundreds of birth of children from in-vitro to those born naturally and found four of 18 categories showed an increased risk of birth defects.
The researchers only looked at cases of single births and didn’t example multiple births, such as twins or triplets, because multiple birth both naturally and through ART are already known to increase the risk of problems for newborns.
"It is important for parents to realize that the individual risk for these birth defects remain low," Reefhuis said. "It sounds like a lot to say ‘a two- to fourfold increased risk,’ but you have to keep in mind that the starting risk for these individual defects is actually pretty low."
However, because the use of in-vitro fertilization is rising, she said prospective parents need to know that some increased risks exist.
"I think it’s important for people to be aware that there may be an increased risk for birth defects with ART," she added. "But it is also really important for couples to realize that with any pregnancy, there is a 3 percent risk of a birth defect regardless of any exposures during pregnancy."
Estimates show about one percent of the babies born in the United States annually are conceived using ART and the number is on the rise.
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