May 8, 2012 — A new study has concluded that babies born to women who use certain infertility treatments, including Clomid, have a higher risk of birth defects compared to babies born to women who do not use fertility treatments.
The researchers also found that babies born to couples who struggled for more than one year to get pregnant were 40% more likely to have a birth defect.
The researchers found that 8.3% risk of birth defects in pregnancies that involved fertility treatments, versus 5.8% risk of birth defects when the pregnancy did not involve a fertility treatment. Overall, using an assistive reproductive technology increased the risk of having a baby with a birth defect by 28%. However, some women may have an even higher risk.
The researchers found that women who used Clomid without medical supervision had a three-fold increased risk of having a baby with a birth defect. The FDA has already added information on the label of Clomid to warn women not to use Clomid during pregnancy, because it increases the risk of major birth defects. However, some women purchase Clomid on the internet because they cannot afford fertility treatments.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine this month. It is the largest-ever study of birth defects and fertility treatments. The researchers analyzed 16 years of data (1986 – 2002) from clinics in South Australia, involving 300,000 babies, of which 18,000 had a birth defect.
The types of birth defects were described as “cardiovascular, muscoloskeletal, urogenital, gastrointestinal abnormalities and cerebral palsy.” The researchers declined to comment on what birth defects were specifically associated with the fertility treatments, because that information will be included in an upcoming paper.
The researchers warned that the increased risk of birth defects may be related to an unknown underlying problem, which also contributes to infertility. The researchers were not surprised to find that couples who have problems conceiving naturally also have an increased risk of having a baby with a birth defect.