19 March 2014
Overuse of IVF and health of IVF conceived children
A recent article in the British Medical Journal has raised concern over the overuse of IVF in cases of subfertility and unexplained infertility and the potential long term health risks for IVF children.
It is our view at IVF Australia that in cases of unexplained infertility it is often a woman’s age and a couple’s other medical conditions that ultimately affect the decision to proceed to IVF.
Associate Professor Peter Illingworth, medical director of IVF Australia, criticised Professor Mol's article for ignoring the importance of IVF for older women with unexplained infertility who were trying to conceive.
For women with unexplained infertility, who are over 35 and trying to have a family, IVF is an important consideration.
“If you are under 35 it is fine to keep trying on your own for a little longer. But if you're 38 and trying to have a family, time is much more short and IVF is a very important consideration," Professor Illingworth said.
“The average age of patients at IVF Australia clinics is 36 so it is important to explain to all patients with unexplained infertility that IVF is not their only chance of conception, but nonetheless may make conception occur more quickly. Other, less involved treatments may also be considered such as ovulation induction or artificial insemination where appropriate,” explained Professor Illingworth.
As part of their argument, the study cites an increased risk of health problems in children conceived through IVF. While this is the case, other recent research from South Australia shows that this association is much more likely to be a result of the underlying fertility problem rather than the IVF treatment itself.
It is our belief that patients currently undergoing IVF or ICSI treatment should not be unduly alarmed by the issues raised in this report. The majority of IVFAustralia patients receiving ART treatment go on to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
If you have concerns regarding the potential health risks for children conceived through IVF you should discuss those directly with your fertility specialist who can put them into perspective for you given your individual situation.