02:21pm Sunday 08 December 2019

RCOG release: Assisted conception slightly increases risk of adverse outcomes for mother and baby, expert says

Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St. George’s Hospital Medical School and previous President of the RCOG, will give a plenary lecture on reproductive outcomes after assisted conception.

The last three decades have witnessed a dramatic increase in the use of modern assisted reproductive technology (ART). Commonly performed ART procedures include in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with or without intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), fresh or frozen embryo transfer, IVF with donor oocytes and intrauterine insemination (IUI).

In developed countries, up to 4% of all children are born after ART.

Although absolute risks appear small and the majority of singleton births after ART are uncomplicated, data from prospective and retrospective studies indicate increased risks of adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes after ART as compared to spontaneous conception, says Professor Arulkumaran.

Assisted reproduction carries an increased risk of multiple pregnancies however even singleton pregnancies carry a heightened risk of hypertensive disease, diabetes, prematurity, low birth weight and a higher perinatal mortality even after taking into account age, parity or fetal sex. In addition, recent studies have shown a link between children born from ART and increased congenital malformation rates.

Professor Arulkumaran recommends that patients undergoing ART procedures should be counselled in advance regarding the maternal and perinatal risks and be given up-to-date information about current research in this area.

He adds that any adverse outcomes in pregnancies could be affected by both the ART technique and underlying maternal factors.

Professor Arulkumaran says:

“Problems with fertility can have a major impact on the quality of life and health of affected couples. As ART becomes increasingly common, it is vital that couples have access to accurate and reliable information on the risks of pregnancy outcomes and children’s health after ART so they can make an informed choice about treatment.

“The large majority of births following ART are not associated with complications however there is an increased risk for some people in comparison to spontaneous conception. More research is needed to look at the long-term effects of ART and this will help us to reduce adverse outcomes. For example, recent studies have reported an increased risk of birth defects in children born from ART, however, more evidence is needed on this issue.”


The 10th RCOG International Scientific Congress takes place in Kuching, Malaysia between 5-8 June 2012. It is held in partnership with the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM).

For more information please visit: www.rcog2012.com

For media enquiries please contact Naomi Weston on 020 77726357 or nweston@rcog.org.uk

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