A new study published in the journal Birth Defects Research Part A, Clinical and Molecular Teratology reports birth defect status three years after birth via assisted reproductive technology (ART). According to the study, in-vitro fertilization of fresh embryo (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection fresh embryo (ICSI) may increase the likelihood of birth defects, some not recognizable at birth.

Researchers examined initial information collected from 4,235 births via ART. At birth, ICSI resulted in lower preterm delivery rates and both ICSI and frozen-thawed embryo transfer (FET) resulted in fewer multiples. About 2,900 of the infants were followed for an additional three to five years. In that time the number of birth defects increased two-fold.

Conclusion: Not all birth defects associated with ART present at birth. Researchers noted a two-fold increase in birth defects from birth to three years. FET did not appear to increase the risk of birth defects, but IVF and ICSI, especially males conceived via ICSI, were at increased risk of birth defects, including congenital malformations.

Source: Yin L, Hang F, Gu LJ, Xu B, Ma D, Zhu GJ. Analysis of birth defects among children 3 years after conception through assisted reproductive technology in China. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 2013 Feb 25. doi: 10.1002/bdra.23116.