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IVF and cerebral palsy: don't panic

Juliet Tizzard

Progress Educational Trust

11 February 2002

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[BioNews, London] News this week that children born as a result of IVF treatment are at a higher risk of developing cerebral palsy might have caused some panic amongst patients and parents of IVF children, particularly if they read some of the newspaper headlines. But the study should not cause alarm.

As we report in this week's BioNews, the study shows an increase in the risk of cerebral palsy in twins and triplets, whether they were conceived by IVF or by natural means. This and other risks associated with multiple pregnancies is something medicine has known about for some time. And it is why steps should, and are, being made towards limiting the number of embryos transferred to the womb in an IVF cycle.

Although the authors of the Lancet study are the first to recognise that multiple births are largely to blame for the increased cerebral palsy risk in IVF, they also point to an increased risk of the condition in singleton IVF pregnancies. However, it is not clear why this should be the case. It is probably because more IVF babies are born prematurely or have a low birth weight, but the study is not able to provide this information. As a result, many experts in the field have called for further studies which provide details of factors such as birth weight and prematurity.

Those about to embark upon IVF treatment should not worry unnecessarily about IVF itself. However, they might wish to remember that multiple pregnancies do carry additional risks and should be avoided if possible.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 11 February 2002   Date Updated: 11 September 2004
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