Infertility is increasing in India, and more couples are turning to assisted reproductive technologies like IVF to become parents. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the estimated percentage of infertile people in India is 3.9–16.8%.
Not just infertile people, some couples also choose IVF as they can choose their baby’s gender. Though IVF has been highly successful in helping millions of couples realize their dreams, many still worry that the babies born through IVF will have certain disadvantages.
So, what is the myth, and what is the truth? Let’s decode some popular disadvantages people believe about IVF and understand the truth in this article.
IVF Babies Disadvantages
IVF involves collecting the eggs and sperm from a couple and fertilizing them in a laboratory. The developing embryo is then transferred back into the female’s uterus, resulting in pregnancy.
IVF is different from natural pregnancy as fertilization does not happen in the female uterus. A lot of medical procedures and medications are involved in IVF, which can sometimes lead to complications. But they are very rare and do not happen to all couples.
Below are some popular beliefs that people have about IVF baby disadvantages and the truth behind them.
Birth defect risk
The most popular opinion about IVF babies is that they are abnormal and might have some birth defects. Some studies have also shown that IVF babies have a higher risk of birth defects than naturally-born babies. Below are some birth defects associated with IVF babies.
- Chromosomal abnormalities: IVF babies are more likely to get chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome.
- Internal organ defects: IVF babies might have defects in the heart or other internal organs.
- Genetic disorders: IVF babies are more likely to have genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.
Though IVF babies are more susceptible to the above disorders, this is not true in all IVF babies. The chances of defects in the babies are mostly dependent on their parents.
If either or both parents have chromosomal or genetic abnormalities, the chances are high for the baby to get these defects. It also depends on how the body reacts to the medication involved in IVF.
Fertility doctors undergo procedures like PGS (Pre-implantation Genetic Screening) to detect abnormalities in the embryo and prevent any chromosomal or genetic issues from passing to the child. This step can greatly reduce the chances of IVF babies having birth defects.
Low birth weight and preterm delivery
The ideal birth weight for newborns is between 5 pounds 8 ounces (2.5 kg) and 8 pounds 13 ounces (4 kg). IVF babies have been shown to have less than 5 pounds (2.2 kg) birth weight and have the risk of premature delivery (born before 37 weeks).
This also makes them more susceptible to other issues like delay in growth, respiratory and digestive issues, and other health problems.
Low birth weight or premature delivery happens when the mother cannot provide enough nutrients for the baby’s growth and development. This can happen in both normal and IVF pregnancies and is based on the mother’s health and the condition of her uterus.
IVF doctors regularly monitor the mother and the baby’s conditions and take timely measures in case of complications. This greatly reduces the chances of low birth weight and premature deliveries.
The risk of having multiple pregnancies is one of the most common fears of couples wishing to undergo IVF. They fear they might have twins, triplets, or even more kids if they undergo IVF. Having twins or triplets is not a major issue unless it compromises the health of the mother and the baby.
The myth of multiple pregnancies started when fertility doctors transferred more than two embryos into the uterus to increase the chances of pregnancy. They believed that even if some embryos die, at least one embryo can successfully implant in the uterus.
Multiple pregnancies happen when all or most of the transferred embryos successfully implant in the uterus and start developing. This can affect the body and health of the mother and the baby.
Multiple embryo transfer was mostly followed in the past when there was not enough technology to assess embryo development and select the best ones for transfer. Today, advanced technology allows doctors to analyze and select one or two embryos with the best chances of success for transfer.
However, multiple pregnancies, like twins or triplets, can also happen if the couple wishes to have more than one child. It totally depends on the couple’s choice and the mother’s health.
The points discussed above are some of people’s most common beliefs about IVF. These myths prevent people from choosing to undergo IVF for their infertility issues.
IVF is a standard procedure that has little to no side effects as long as it is done under an expert fertility specialist. So, if you have decided to undergo IVF, understand the procedure carefully and choose the best fertility centre for your treatment.
Children born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) have an increased risk of heart problems, preterm birth, low birth weight, and musculoskeletal and central nervous system deformities. These risks appear to be related to maternal and paternal variables and the IVF procedure itself.
Babies born through IVF are as healthy as natural-born babies. This conception method poses no dangers to the parent’s or child’s health, now or in the future. The odds of acquiring a congenital abnormality or other diseases are the same as for a normally conceived baby.
Yes, as long as the egg and sperm used for fertilization belong to the intended parents, the baby will look like them. In case of extreme infertility issues where the mother or father uses a donor egg/sperm, the baby might not look like the parent.
Yes, IVF is safe for both the mother and the baby. The risks of complications are also very low compared to other fertility treatments. Talk with your fertility doctor and understand the procedure before deciding to undergo the procedure.