Assisted reproduction ups risk of congenital malformations in babies

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Washington, June 14 (ANI): Scientists warn that couples thinking of going for assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment should know about its increased risk of congenital malformation.

Dr. Geraldine Viot, a clinical geneticist at the Maternite Port Royal hospital, Paris, France conducted a survey in 33 French centres registered for ART.

Questionnaires were completed both by the parents and the paediatrician and the prevalence of malformations found compared with the data obtained from national registers and in published papers.

"We found a major congenital malformation in 4.24 percent of the children compared with the 2-3 percent that we had expected from previous published studies. This higher rate was due in part to an excess of heart diseases and malformations of the uro-genital system. This was much more common in boys. Among the minor malformations, we found a five times higher rate of angioma, benign tumours made up of small blood vessels on or near the surface of the skin. These occurred more than twice as frequently in girls than boys," said Viot.

"Given that our study is the largest to date, we think that our data are more likely to be statistically representative of the true picture," he added.

The researchers mentioned that multiple factors have to be considered in order to better understand the reasons for malformation in some and not in others.

"We need more research in order to understand the relationship between embryo culture media, timing of embryo transfer, the effects of ovarian stimulation, the use of ICSI, where sperm is injected directly into the egg, freezing of gametes and embryos and these disorders," said Viot.

The team is also trying to find out if malformation is more likely to be related to parental infertility or the ART procedure itself.

"These results could be due to the effect of a number of different mechanisms. They could be due to the infertility itself, the ovarian stimulation for supernumerary oocyte production, the in vitro maturation of oocytes, the use of ICSI (direct injection of sperm), the culture media, the cryopreservation of gametes and embryos - we just don't know at present. Finding this out will be a major step towards improving the health of children born after ART," concluded Viot. (ANI)

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