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Assisted Reproduction Has Lower Birth Defect Risk For Older Mothers: Study

First Posted: Oct 18, 2016 05:40 AM EDT
Test Tube Baby
The findings from the recent study challenges the widely assumed idea that older women using assisted reproduction are more likely to have babies with birth defects. The photo shows the team who pioneered IVF and the world’s first test tube baby. (Photo by Keystone / Stringer via Getty Images)

(Photo : Keystone/Getty Images)

An Australian study revealed that older mothers who get pregnant via assisted reproduction are less likely to have babies suffering from various birth defects. This is in comparison to those who naturally conceive.

According to UPI, the recent findings challenge the common belief that assisted reproduction increases birth defect risks in all women. Study lead author Michael Davies said there is a noteworthy happening in older mothers, particularly those over 40 years of age, who use assisted reproduction.

The researchers focused on the information about South Australian births between 1986 and 2002. 2,200 in vitro fertilization (IVF) births, around 1,400 intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) births, and more than 301,000 naturally conceived births were included in the study. When they looked at the births by maternal age, the defects ranged from 11 percent for mothers below 30 years old using ICSI to 3.6 percent for women 40 and older using IVF. In naturally conceived births, the birth defects were 5.6 percent in younger mothers and 8 percent of older women.

The findings are in contrast to previous studies suggesting that women using assisted reproduction face an increased birth defect rate. It has also been suggested before that the average birth defect rate was only 6 percent of naturally conceived births, 10 percent for ICSI, and 7 percent for IVF. According to iNews, fertility experts assumed that the natural decrease in fertility rates from 35 years old onwards was an indication that older mothers using IVF are at risk of having children with disability.

Due to the outcome of this recent study, Davies said maternal age being a key factor in birth defects was just widely assumed but not tested. Meanwhile, further research is still needed to identify the reasons behind the results of the study. Nevertheless, this is good news to numerous older mothers who still want to give birth. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology published the findings on October 17.

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