Doctors may treat women who became pregnant through IVF treatment better than they treat women with spontaneous pregnancies. A new international study shows that a clinician may give different advice to the mother of a “precious baby” when it comes to prenatal care.

It is common for women who have invested time and resources in IVF (in vitro fertilization), to be cautious during pregnancy. For example, women who became pregnant through IVF are more likely to opt for delivery by cesarean section (c-section) to reduce any possible trauma or complications from a vaginal delivery. These women usually follow physician recommendations regarding prenatal care to ensure their “precious baby” develops safely, with as little intrusion from the outside world as possible.

Dr. Yaniv Hanoch, the co-author of the study and Associate Professor in Psychology at Plymouth University, said that “some pregnancies are deemed by parents to be more valuable than others, particularly if conception has taken several courses of assisted reproductive treatment to achieve.”

The study, published in Human Reproduction scientific journal, suggests “precious baby” phenomenon also affects doctors. The research showed that doctors are reluctant to order one type of standard prenatal test because of its invasive nature to the womb.

Doctors are reluctant to order invasive tests after IVF

Researchers used answers from approximately 160 obstetricians and gynecologists who filled out a questionnaire based on a hypothetical situation. When asked if they would recommend amniocentesis – an invasive test for Down’s syndrome – about 45 percent recommended the procedure. However, when the respondents learned the pregnancy was the result of IVF, only 19.2 percent of the clinicians recommended the test.

While amniocentesis is an important prenatal diagnostic tool, it does carry a small risk for miscarriage. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the miscarriages due to amniocentesis performed at 15 weeks or after are only one in 300 to 500.

Dr. Hanoch also said, “you might expect clinical recommendations regarding pregnancies to remain consistent, particularly when it comes to tests for serious medical conditions. However, this study demonstrates there may be a tendency for clinicians to be affected by the nature of the pregnancy before determining the parents' wishes."


  • ECRI Institute. "Invasive prenatal testing for aneuploidy." Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 30 July 2008. Web. Retrieved 14 Nov 2013.
  • "Study suggests clinicians' decision making could be affected by 'precious baby' phenomenon." Plymouth University News Centre. 4 Nov 2013. Web. Retrieved 14 Nov 2013.