Dark side of IVF makes an impact

Michael Cook
28 Apr 2012
Reproduced with Permission

The negative side of IVF birth defects may finally be getting some publicity. IVF clinics are aware that there is a higher incidence of birth defects among children conceived through IVF. However, consumer awareness is low.

But last week's news that birth defects are 37% higher is dramatic. "That is a huge number," writes Art Caplan, of New York University. He is probably the most quoted bioethicist in the US, and possibly the world, so attitudes could change. He writes in a column for msnbc.com:

"the large risk factor now on the table needs to be a key part of how everyone thinks about making babies in medical settings. The authors of the study say they do not know why the risk is so large. And it has taken far too long for this question to get asked. We need to be sure that long-term monitoring of children born by means of infertility treatment is routine and that more research is done into the causes of health problems for kids who cannot make choices about facing risk.

"Infertility treatments have brought a great deal of joy to many. But, the price is high -- so high that we need to be sure it is a key element in thinking about using these treatments."