4 News Now Q&A: Do infertility treatments increase health risks?

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Q: Do infertility treatments increase health risks?

Millions of people use infertility treatments to have a baby, and this week, new research linked those treatments to an increased risk for heart and pregnancy-related complications.

A: The study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found women who used infertility treatments had more preexisting health conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes, when they started the treatment.

The women were also 38 percent more likely to need a cesarean delivery and 26 percent more likely to have the baby born prematurely.

That’s not surprising, according to infertility specialist Dr. Sigal Klipstein.

“The findings are confirming things that we already know that women who have cardiovascular risk factors when they’re entering a pregnancy do have increased risks,” Dr. Klipstein said.

The study also found increased risks for women who underwent fertility treatments, even when they had no preexisting symptoms of heart disease.

Dr. Klipstein said underlying infertility – not the fertility treatment – is often what is linked to worse outcomes.

She pointed to PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which can also come with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

A key limitation of the study was that it did not compare different fertility treatments.

“A woman who maybe needed a short course of fertility pills and and became pregnant very quickly is different from a woman who required multiple rounds of IVF.”

Dr. Klipstein believes the main takeaway from the study is the need for women to address any risk factors for heart disease prior to getting pregnant if possible.

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