Risk of Cerebral Palsy Increased with Fertility Treatment: Study

The findings of a new study indicate that mothers who receive fertility treatments to assist in conceiving are nearly twice as likely to give birth to a child with cerebral palsy (CP) than those that conceive without help. 

The study, conducted by researchers from Denmark, was published last month in the medical journal Human Reproduction. The increased risk of cerebral palsy appeared to be related to multiple birth and preterm deliveries, according to data the scientists collected.

The study was a population-based cohort study that looked at data on all 588,967 children born in Denmark from 1995 to 2003. Out of that group, 33,139 children were born as a result of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ovulation induction (OI), and 1,146 have been diagnosed with CP as of 2009.

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Researchers found that the assisted conception resulted in children with cerebral palsy at a nearly 2-to-1 ratio when compared to non-assisted conceptions. IVF alone was 2.3 times more likely to lead to a cerebral palsy birth, while ovulation induction was 1.5 times more likely to lead to a cerebral palsy birth. However, when researchers accounted for multiple births and preterm deliveries, which are frequently associated with assisted conception, the higher rates of cerebral palsy disappeared.

The Danish researchers concluded that more frequent use of single embryo assisted conception methods should be considered to increase the chances of long-term health in IVF births.

Cerebral palsy can be caused by an injury to an infant’s brain before, during or shortly after birth. If the brain of a baby is deprived of oxygen, it can result in irreversible damage that leaves the child with developmental problems, loss of motor functions and other life-long injuries and disabilities associated with cerebral palsy. Symptoms of cerebral palsy are commonly associated with seizures, sensory impairments and cognitive limitation.

In some cases, cerebral palsy may be caused by a medical mistake that occurs during prenatal care or delivery, resulting in the child’s brain being deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time. Medical malpractice lawsuits for cerebral palsy are often filed when the disability could have been prevented with the exercise of proper standards of medical care.


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