IVF Twins at Higher Risk of Medical Problems and Death Early in Life

May 21, 2009
Twins born as a result of fertility treatment face the greater risk of various health problems early in life, a new study says.

The study conducted by scientists in Australia and UK showed that twins conceived using assisted reproductive technology such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) were more likely to need neonatal intensive care and to be hospitalized in their first several years of life. Researchers analyzed the data on perinatal outcomes and the risk of hospitalization for twin children up to 3 years of age born between 1993 and 2000 in Australia following either assisted reproductive technology (ART) or spontaneous conception.

The findings of the study show that ART twins were at increased risk of adverse outcomes after birth, including preterm birth, stillbirth, death after birth and low birth weight in comparison to children conceived naturally.

Michèle Hansen, an author of the study and PhD student at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Australia said that twins born after fertility treatment had double the risk of perinatal death compared to spontaneously conceived twin children. Art children also four times were more likely to be in need of neonatal intensive care and had increased risk of being hospitalized during their first three years of life.

The recent studies showed that twins born as a result of assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF, face the higher risk of such complications as low birth weight and premature delivery. It is not clear why IVF twins are at greater risk of medical problems than spontaneously conceived twins. Researchers suppose that couple's infertility and assisted reproductive technology may somehow contribute to weaker health for those children.

Scientists say that couples undergoing fertility treatment should be warned about the risks, while professionals should reduce the possibility of multiple births following IFV.