The first few months of IVF babies’ lives are generally uneventful but this is when the real problems start.
Parents to such babies often report that their children are constantly ill, have learning difficulties and behavioral problems.
With that in mind, it is a valid question to ask if IVF babies encounter more issues compared to those born naturally.
We are going to answer that question in the next few paragraphs so stay put.
Are IVF Babies More Susceptible to Health Issues?
The answer to this question is that it is debatable. However, there are some indications in the research that IVF babies may have problems.
About two-thirds of all children born from IVF have a normal IQ, according to statistics from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
Nevertheless, three studies from different countries found more behavioral problems and abnormalities in IVF children than in naturally conceived children.
The results were constant and the differences were statistically noteworthy.
Health Issues that Come with IVF Babies
You need to keep in mind that IVF babies are no more or less likely to have developmental problems than any other babies; it has to do with the parents and not the process.
However, they do tend to be a little smaller than average when they’re born, which means they can be more vulnerable to health issues.
One very common health issue is low blood sugar, which occurs because their bodies don’t produce enough insulin.
They also run a higher risk of cleft palate, a problem in which the roof of the baby’s mouth does not completely close, which can affect feeding and speech as well as overall health.
Other common issues include:
The most common side effect includes ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). It is a condition that occurs when the ovaries become excessively stimulated by the fertility drugs used during IVF.
This can cause inflammation and pain in the ovaries. Of course, this is treatable because of its mild to moderate nature.
It is important to note that this complication can be avoided if the doctor closely monitors the patient’s response to the fertility drugs.
When it comes to serious side effects, an embryo can grow abnormally due to its fertilization in a test tube.
Unfortunately, this condition cannot be detected until after the embryo’s transfer into the uterus. This results in deformities such as cysts or abdominal enlargement.
Another complication worthy of note is ectopic pregnancy, which happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes.
This requires immediate medical attention because it places the mother’s life at risk. If left untreated, it can result in the death of both mother and baby.
Second-generation IVF babies are also more susceptible to health issues. Due to the way they have been conceived, they may have different sex chromosomes to their parents and be born with a condition called Klinefelter’s syndrome.
This is where the baby has three sex chromosomes, instead of the usual two, XX (female) or XY (male).
Some studies have also linked IVF to a higher risk of childhood cancers; however, they are not conclusive. Moreover, the risk is certainly low:
A 2006 study concluded that the overall risk to children conceived through IVF was similar to that of children born after spontaneous conception.
There’s no evidence that these complications affect childhood intelligence or behavior, but they’re a reminder that while IVF is safe overall, it’s never entirely risk-free.
Multiple Birth Complications
Some women can get pregnant with IVF, but others need multiple rounds of treatment before they succeed.
Multiple births from IVF can pose health problems for both mom and baby — including high blood pressure and premature birth for moms and eye, heart and other medical issues for babies.
Babies born through IVF are generally considered to have the same risk level as those conceived naturally (though there is no proof for this).
Still, some studies have indeed shown a slightly higher risk of birth defects in children conceived through IVF. These studies are controversial though, and not all researchers agree on the risks involved.