Effects of IVF on the Baby

For couples with fertility issues, and particularly those who have tried other fertility treatments and methods of conception, IVF is a godsend. A remarkable procedure that allows your specialist to sidestep the causes of infertility by arranging conception in a lab environment where it is much more likely to occur under medical influences, IVF has provided countless couples across the world the chance to get pregnant. However, because IVF is performed away from your body’s rigorous control systems, there can be some longer term effects which you should be aware of.

What are the potential undesirable side effects of IVF?

Research shows that you are more likely to experience multiple births, premature birth or ectopic pregnancy (pregnancies occurring in the fallopian tubes rather than the womb) when using IVF, but what do these mean for the baby?

Multiple births involve an embryo either splitting to form more than one foetus, or multiple embryos being carried through to term. The consequences of this on the children to be born are that they are more likely to be born underweight and premature. While modern medicine offers many premature babies the chance to grow healthily, there’s always a risk of developmental problems with premature infants which can last a lifetime.

Most ectopic pregnancies don’t carry through to full term, and so the consequence of an ectopic pregnancy is that your body or doctor will terminate the pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is extremely unsafe for the mother, and as the foetus very rarely survives to full term the only treatment is abortion, which can be extremely emotionally difficult for both parents.

There is a slightly higher risk of complications during pregnancy following IVF treatment, but your doctor will monitor your pregnancy carefully via ultrasound. IVF pregnancies tend to be closely observed at every stage to make sure that everything is progressing as it should, and you should take comfort in the fact that with such rigorous care doctors are able to pre-empt medical conditions

Long term effects on the child

Rates for babies born with birth defects are marginally higher with couples who have used IVF treatment, however, HFEA speculate that this is not due to the IVF procedure itself but rather the causes of infertility.

To reduce the chances of negative effects on the child, doctors will runs tests prior to the procedure. If the male or female is found to have a condition which is likely to be passed on to the child then they will asked to consider this before going on with treatment. Under these circumstances you may wish to use an egg or sperm donation. What this can involve is an opportunity to genetically screen an embryo to detect any developmental or genetic conditions, which is particularly useful for parents who carry the genes for such diseases as Huntington’s which are extremely debilitating genetic conditions.

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