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ART is Not a Major Risk Factor for Birth Defects

ASRM Office of Public Affairs

21 October 2014

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Honolulu, Hawaii – New research presented at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) compares the health of children conceived naturally and those conceived using assisted reproductive technologies concludes that the prevalence of birth defects is low even among ART conceived children.  

Thanks to a program linking public health reports of birth defects in Massachusetts with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) database of ART procedures, researchers were able to track deliveries in the state between 2004 and 2008. During those years more than 300,000 babies were delivered with 11,000 (3.8%) of them having been conceived with ART. The researchers then examined the records for the presence of cardiac and non-cardiac birth defects. While the ART conceived children were found to have somewhat higher prevalence of cardiac and non-cardiac birth defects than spontaneously conceived children, the overall rates remained quite low. The rate of cardiac birth defects in the ART conceived population was 82 per 10,000 (0.82%) births and for non-ART children it was 52 per 10,000 (0.52%). For non-cardiac defects the prevalence was 180 per 10,000 births (1.8%) in the ART population and 150 per 10,000 (1.5%) in the spontaneously conceived group.

Based on these numbers the researchers concluded that the overall prevalence of birth defects in both ART and non-ART populations is low and that ART is unlikely to be a major risk factor for birth defects. 

“We were very pleased to have contributed to this very important study. While we need to better understand any relationship between birth defects and infertility, it is comforting to confirm that rates of birth defects remain low among those children conceived using assisted reproductive technologies,” stated Charles Coddington, MD, President of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

O-7 KD Getz et al “The Occurrence of Birth Defects in Relation to Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the Massachusetts Outcome Study of Assisted Reproductive Technology Database”

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Date Added: 21 October 2014   Date Updated: 21 October 2014
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