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Study: Some fertility treatments increase risk of birth defects

Advances in fertility technology offer hope to North Carolina couples who have difficulty conceiving a child on their own. Raising a child can bring a lifetime of happiness to any couple, so many will take medical measures to make that desire possible. However, a recent study uncovered a greater risk of pregnancy complications for those who undergo fertility procedures.

Expecting parents hope their child will enter the world happy, healthy and ready to thrive. However, certain fertility procedures are found to increase the likelihood of birth defects. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, when a single sperm is injected into an egg, birth defects occur about 10 percent of the time, compared to 6 percent of the time in instances of natural conception. In the United States, nearly 75 percent of the 146,000 in-vitro fertilization attempts utilized the more risky injection method of fertilization.

Doctors say that this procedure carries more risk than simple in-vitro fertilization procedures that do not involve the sperm injection. They believe the injection may agitate the cells too much or allow less viable cells to become in fertilization, which leads to birth defects.

This study shows that doctors should sit down with their patients and have an honest conversation about the potential risks of any procedure performed. Patients deserve to understand the risks of medical procedures and have options that will increase the likelihood that their child will be born without serious complications.

When parents are investing a lot of emotion and time into having a child, it is important for full disclosure and transparency from their medical providers. Eager parents are likely to do all the right things and take the correct medical steps, but they may discover that their child is at risk of suffering from a birth defect. A child's suffering could be avoided if doctors do everything in their power to ensure the health of the infants and mothers in their care.

Source: NBC Today Health, "Birth defect risk rises with some fertility treatments," Marilynn Marchione, May 5, 2012

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