Recent research reveals that children conceived with assisted reproductive techniques such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) have a greater risk of mortality during the first week of life as compared to other children who are conceived naturally. The study is published in the journal “Fertility and Sterility”.
The researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden said that a high risk of mortality in IVF children is linked to premature birth but the infant mortality risk for both the groups is still small. Mortality risk for all children who are beyond one year is the same without considering the method of conception.
Kenny Rodriguez Walberg who is an associate professor at the Department of Oncology and Pathology at Karolinska Institute said, it is important for scientists to note that infant mortality rate is higher if it is observed at the group level but at the individual level the absolute risk for each child is very small. Moreover, no increase in mortality risk is seen in the IVF children after the age of one year.
The women who were unable to become pregnant naturally may seek help from reproductive techniques and get pregnant. The ratio of pregnancies through these techniques have increased in recent years. These pregnancies most of the time become successful with the result of a healthy baby.
Previous studies showed that IVF pregnancies have a greater risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and birth defects. These risks are usually associated with the likelihood of twin babies after IVF treatment.
In this study, researchers choose only singleton births and made a comparison between the mortality rates of children who conceived with different assisted reproductive techniques and children who were conceived with natural methods. They collected the data from 2.8 million newborn children in Sweden over a period of 30 years. Out of this 43500 children were the outcome of assisted reproductive techniques.
The total number of children who died during one year of age is 7,236. Out of this 114 were the children who conceived with assisted reproduction. After correcting the confounding factors including earlier infertility and age of mother, scientists found that the risk of death in the children who conceived through IVF is 45% greater as compared to children who conceived naturally.
The risk level depends on the type of reproductive technique used for pregnancy. It also depends on the days that passed after birth. It is observed that risk is decreased gradually after one week of life.
During the IVF technique, the frozen embryo is used, and it increased the risk of mortality. After the first week of life, the risk of mortality dropped and reached the same level of children who conceived naturally. The risk of death is seen decreased in the children who conceived by transferring the fresh embryo or through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (a technique where only single sperm is injected into the egg).
Anastasia Nyman Iliadou who is an associate professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institute and lead author said that further investigation is needed for knowing the underlying causes and mechanisms that are responsible for the mortality risk. The results showed that extra care and attention are required for the children who conceived with IVF especially during the first week after birth.