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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Contrasting opposing findings in medical literature, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba have shown in a comprehensive study that there is no increase in the rate of long-term cardiovascular disease in children born as a result of fertility treatments.
The long-term, large-scale study, presented by Dr. Avi Harlev at a recent conference of the Israel Association for the Study of Fertility, examined cardiovascular morbidity in children born after spontaneous pregnancies compared with those born after fertility treatment in general and IVF in particular.
The research team also included BGU public health researcher Dr. Tamar Weinstock and Dr. Eliahu Levitas (director of the fertility and IVF unit), Dr. Osnat Walfish, Prof. Eyal Sheiner of the gynecology department at Soroka and Dr. Daniela Landau of the hospital’s pediatrics division.
The study compared approximately 240,000 women who had spontaneous pregnancy and childbirth at Soroka Hospital, 1,721 women who became pregnant through fertility treatments and 2,603 women who had conceived through IVF.
All of the births were one child only.
The rates of heart disease and cardiovascular disease over the years were similar – 0.6% among infants born following fertility treatments and a similar rate among infants born after spontaneous pregnancies. The study showed no increase in overall morbidity or cardiovascular morbidity in children born as a result of fertility treatment.
“There has been controversy in the medical literature about the long-term morbidity of children born after a fertility treatment,” said Sheiner. “In light of the fact that we will have many more pregnancies after fertility treatments, it seems that, at least in cardiovascular disease, we can rest easy that babies resulting from IVF and other fertility treatments have no increased risk.”
Every year, tens of thousands of fertility treatments are performed on women who cannot conceive naturally, and thousands of babies are born who could not otherwise have existed. The treatments range from taking pills to injections to regulate and synchronize ovulation, with or without insemination, to invasive in-vitro fertilization