Medical Study—France: Assisted reproduction may contribute to birth defects
06/16/2010 // West Palm Beach, Florida, USA // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
West Palm Beach, FL— A French study concerning assisted reproductive technology (ART) revealed an increased rate of major birth defects in children born through such procedures. The study took into consideration births in 33 registered clinics throughout France from 2003 to 2007, according to information provided by Discovery News on Monday, June 14, 2010.
Methods of ART include in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Hormone therapy, conducted as a means of “restoring or stimulating ovulation,” was another ART technique used by women trying to conceive.
According to the report, more than 15,000 children were born through ART in the clinics assessed. Within the general population, the rate of birth defects and deformities ranged from two to three percent.
Conversely, rates in ART children were significantly higher. “We found a major congenital malformation in 4.24 percent of the children,” stated Geraldine Viot, lead researcher and clinical geneticist at the Port Royal Maternity Hospital in Paris.
Viot noted, “This rate was due in part to an excess of heart disease and malformations in the uro-genital system. This was much more common in boys… We estimate that in France some 200,000 children have been born through ART. A malformation rate of this magnitude is a public health issue… It is important that all doctors, and also politicians, are informed about this.”
While the study was the largest of its kind, there are several important factors that remain in question. For instance, it was unknown to what extent genetics were contributing factors in ART-born children with birth defects. Also, the specific type of ART technique used may have also contributed, more or less, to these malformations.
Another study conducted in Denmark indicated that women who undergo in-vitro fertilization treatment are four times more susceptible to have a stillbirth as opposed to those who gave birth naturally or used an alternative ART method.
“At a time when infertility is increasing and more and more couples need to use ART to conceive, it is vitally important that we find out as much as we can about what is causing malformations in these children,” Viot explained.
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