Prematurity

Fewer complications in IVF pregnancies?

New research suggests IVF pregnancies could have lower rates of some complications

Surprisingly, some complications might actually be less common in pregnancies that result from assisted reproductive technology such as IVF

This seems to go against what fertility doctors, obgyns and midwives have been telling their patients for years, namely that women with IVF pregnancies are more likely than "regular" pregnancies to experience pregnancy complications.

What complications were actually less common in IVF pregnancies?

A group looking at IVF outcome data submitted through the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that risk of perinatal mortality (the risk of stillbirth or newborn death) in very premature births was lower in women who conceived with IVF than those who did not. They found this to be true with both single births and multiple births (twins triplets, etc.) This informations was recently presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Does this mean getting pregnant with IVF is actually safer than getting pregnant on your own?

Probably not. Women who conceived with IVF were less likely to lose a premature baby than those who got pregnant on their own. We have no idea why this is the case. It could be due to more careful prenatal care with IVF pregnancies, or a higher socioeconomic level in couples doing IVF, rather that a results of what is actually going on with the pregnancy. 

Why is this surprising?

There are many studies show a higher rate of complications in pregnancies that result from assisted reproduction such as IVF, and some others that show no effect. It was surprising to find out from such as large database, that at least one serious complication was less common.

Endometriosis and pregnancy complications

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It is well known that women who suffer from infertility and become pregnant are more like to have a difficult pregnancy. The rates of a number of pregnancy complications are increased in these women even if the pregnancy was not the result of treatment such as fertility drugs, IVF or IUI.  It is also widely known that endometriosis may cause infertility.  What is less clear is whether is there is a relationship between endometriosis and pregnancy complications.

Now a group from the UK has studied the link  between the two and found that women with endometriosis in fact do have higher rates of pregnancy complications than other women. Their findings were presented at  The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology . They found that that pregnant Endometriosis patients were more likely to experience:

  • Ectopic pregnancy 
  • Miscarriage 
  • Placenta previa 
  • Preterm birth  
  • Heavy bleeding before or after birth  

While the study may be small and limited, it does suggest that like infertility, endometriosis in itself may be a risk factor for a complicated pregnancy.