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IVF babies at no greater risk - but their mothers are

By Lilian Anekwe

Babies born by IVF are at no greater risk of birth defects or small birth weight, but the procedure puts mothers at risk of early vaginal bleeding, suggests research from Japan.

Some studies have suggested worse outcomes for IVF babies. But this new study – comparing nearly 54,000 naturally conceived births with about 1,400 babies born via IVF – found about one in five IVF babies were low birth weight, compared with about one in six controls, a non-statistically significant difference. About 2% of all babies had birth defects.

However, 5% of women who became pregnant via IVF developed placenta previa, compared with 1.5% of the women who conceived naturally.

Study leader Dr Mai Fujii, an obstetric researcher at the reproductive health department of the World Health Organisation, said: ‘We found no dramatic increases in perinatal death, low birth weight or congenital malformation with IVF. But a maternal outcome, placental previa, was statistically significantly higher.'

Fertility and Sterility 2010, online 21 February

One in five IVF babies were low birth weight, compared with about one in six controls One in five IVF babies were low birth weight, compared with about one in six controls

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