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ASRM/SART Comment on NEJM Article on Increased Risk of Birth Defects Following IVF

May 7 , 2012
by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Published in ASRM Press Release

Reproductive Medical Experts Comment on NEJM Article on Increased Risk of Birth Defects Following IVF

Leaders of American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) Offer Responses

Statement Attributable to Linda Giudice, MD, PhD, President-elect of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) 

“This study confirms what has been known for quite some time: Patients who need medical assistance to conceive have a somewhat higher risk of having children with birth defects than parents able to conceive on their own.  Patients considering medically assisted conception have been, and should continue to be, counseled on those risks prior to undergoing any treatment.”

Statement attributable to Glenn Schattman, MD, President of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) 

“It is important to note that women with a history of infertility who did not undergo ART treatments also had a higher increase of having children with birth defects. This combined with the finding that those using ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) also had slightly elevated risks of birth defects suggest that the underlying problem that led them to seek medical assistance in the first place is likely contributing to the elevated risk of birth defects in their children.

Some results in this study are reassuring for patients: in cycles not including ICSI, the adjusted odds ratio for IVF conceived children did NOT show a significant difference in birth defects and children born following embryo freezing had no higher risk of birth defects than naturally conceived children.

These are interesting and important findings and we will need much more research to allow us to help patients overcome their infertility with treatments that are as safe as possible for them and the children born from the treatments.”


The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, founded in 1944, is an organization of 8,000 physicians, researchers, nurses, technicians and other professionals dedicated to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive biology.  Affiliated societies include the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, the Society of Reproductive Surgeons, and the Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists.

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, an ASRM affiliate,  is the primary organization of professionals dedicated to the practice of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in the United States. The organization includes more than 393 member practices, representing more than 85 percent of the ART clinics in the country. SART’s mission is to set and help maintain the standards for ART in an effort to better serve its members and their patients.

NEJM reference:  Davies MJ et al. Reproductive technologies and the risk of birth defects. N Engl J Med 2012:doi 10.1056/NEJMoa1008095

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