It is known that babies conceived through medically assisted reproduction for infertility have a greater incidence of premature birth and lower birth size, but a new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology showed there are other reasons that could explain this.
The study used birth certificates from all babies born in Utah from 2009 to 2017 to study their birth outcomes and compare the risks of adverse birth outcomes in pregnancies conceived with and without infertility treatments. The sample included 469,919 deliveries, of which 5.2% were conceived through medically assisted reproduction. The study measured factors like birth weight, gestational age, low birth weight, and small for gestational age. There were two comparisons made: birth outcomes of naturally conceived babies versus babies conceived through medically assisted reproduction; and birth outcomes between babies conceived through medically assisted reproduction and their naturally conceived siblings.
The results of the first comparison showed babies conceived through medically assisted reproduction had more adverse outcomes like low birth weight, premature birth, earlier birth, and small size for gestational age. Moreover, birth outcomes are worse the more invasive and infertility treatment, such as artificial insemination, is.
However, in the comparison among siblings, the difference in the frequency of adverse birth outcomes was insignificant. Comparing birth from the same mother showed that infertility treatments were not really the cause of adverse birth outcomes, since the sibling had similar pregnancy terms and birth weights. Instead, the results suggest that the mother’s age, fertility problems, BMI, and health conditions play a big part in adverse birth outcomes.
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