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IVF risks need to be highlighted and better reported, suggests editorial

31 January 2011
Appeared in BioNews 593

Deaths related to IVF treatment should be better reported to stop them increasing, say the authors of a British Medical Journal (BMJ) editorial. The editorial argues IVF may be riskier than unassisted pregnancy or abortion, although deaths related to IVF remain rare. More stringent reporting could reveal ways to reduce these deaths.

'More stringent attention to stimulation regimens, preconceptual care, and pregnancy management is needed so that maternal death and severe morbidity do not worsen further', said the authors, led by consultant obstetrician Dr Susan Bewley from Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in London.

Pregnancy and IVF treatment records should be officially linked to prevent IVF-related deaths being underestimated, Dr Bewley and colleagues argue. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK's fertility regulator, prohibits record linkage.

The editorial also argues more information should be given to patients about the risks of fertility treatment and IVF practitioners need to get better at identifying women in high-risk groups. They also advocate greater use of single embryo transfer, to avoid the problems caused by multiple pregnancies.

Deaths from IVF are rare but relevant
BMJ Editorial: Adverse outcomes from IVF |  20 May 2022
IVF and abortion claim similar number of women's lives a year: BMJ
Daily Telegraph |  28 January 2011
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Use of assisted reproductive technologies like IVF carry with them an increased risk of complications for mother and child, a report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists highlights...
21 May 2012 - by Dr Greg Ball 
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17 January 2011 - by Dr Lucy Freem 
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6 December 2010 - by Rosemary Paxman 
A new study has shown that IVF may not be linked to an increased risk of certain cancers among female patients. A team of Swedish researchers concluded that although cancer or cancer treatment may increase the need for IVF, the risks of cancer post-IVF treatment were low...
24 September 2010 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Research suggests the anxiety and depression some women experience when undergoing IVF may not be linked to the hormone drugs used in the treatment...
23 March 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government's fertility watchdog, is updating its guidelines to recommend that doctors make couples aware of the potential risks to children conceived by IVF. The decision follows the publication of a study by the Centers for Disease Control and...
7 April 2008 - by MacKenna Roberts 
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