(HealthDay News) – The likelihood of congenital malformations, including defects of the eye, heart, and genitourinary system, is significantly increased for infants conceived following in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Lorraine I. Kelley-Quon, MD, from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues identified infants born after use of IVF or fertility-related services (fertility-enhancing drugs, artificial insemination, or intrauterine insemination) from the California Linked Birth Cohort Dataset from 2006–2007. The incidence of major congenital malformations in this group was compared with the incidence found in propensity-matched control groups of naturally-conceived infants.

The researchers identified 3,463 infants with major congenital malformations among 4,795 infants born after IVF and 46,025 matched controls. For infants born after IVF, birth defects were significantly increased (9.0 vs. 6.6%; P<0.001), including major malformations of the eye, head and neck, heart, and genitourinary system. The odds of major malformations remained increased after adjustment for other infant and maternal factors (odds ratio [OR] for all major malformations, 1.25; OR for defects of eye, 1.81; heart, 1.41; and genitourinary system, 1.40). Infants with chromosomal abnormalities were uncommon but were present significantly less frequently in the IVF group. The odds of congenital malformation after fertility-related services alone (1,749 infants) were nonsignificant, compared with matched controls.

“For parents considering in vitro fertilization or other forms of assisted reproductive technology, it is important that they understand and discuss with their doctor the potential risks of the procedure before making a decision,” Kelley-Quon said in a statement.

More Information