This site is intended for health professionals only

Health fears over IVF babies

IVF babies may be a third more likely to suffer health problems and genetic flaws, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has warned.

Research carried out in the US suggests that babies born as a result of IVF treatment suffer from higher rates of heart valve defects, cleft lips and palates, and abnormalities of the digestive system.

As a result, the government's fertility watchdog has amended official guidance to give more information about recent studies that raise fears about the treatment.

From next month, parents may access advice on potential risks on the HFEA's website. More than 12,000 babies were born in 2006 as a result of IVF treatment.

An HFEA spokesman said: "As with any medical procedure, it is important that patients understand what the treatment involves and what the risks may be.

"Our code of practice says that clinicians must tell patients about the possible side effects and risks of treatment, including any risks for the child. Anyone who has concerns should discuss them with their doctor."

IVF specialist Richard Kennedy, of the British Fertility Society, said: "We have known for some time that there is a slightly increased risk of abnormalities for all IVF treatments. It is only right that patients should be told about this."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority