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The risks of IVF

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanFebruary 18, 2009 5:40 AM


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Picture Emerging on Genetic Risks of IVF:

In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a paper reporting that babies conceived with IVF, or with a technique in which sperm are injected directly into eggs, have a slightly increased risk of several birth defects, including a hole between the two chambers of the heart, a cleft lip or palate, an improperly developed esophagus and a malformed rectum. The study involved 9,584 babies with birth defects and 4,792 babies without. Among the mothers of babies without birth defects, 1.1 percent had used IVF or related methods, compared with 2.4 percent of mothers of babies with birth defects.

1) Are women who go through IVF the same as women who do not? That is, there is something about women who go through IVF which might increase the rates of birth defects? See a recent paper on the effect of prenatal smoking on fetuses who were implanted via IVF. 2) A small difference in individual risk can result in a relatively non-trivial increase in expense on the part of society through insurance programs.

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