IVF 'halves birth defect risk' in mums over 40, study finds

Women over the age of 40 who undergo IVF treatment are more likely to give birth to a healthy baby compared to those who conceive naturally at the same age, a new study has found.

The groundbreaking research by Adelaide University found the risk of birth defects was halved with the use of the fertility treatment, contrary to widespread belief.

Lead author Professor Michael Davies said the findings were “extremely important”.

“There is something going on that can halve the risk of birth defects in women over 40,” he told 7 News.

“There may be an opportunity there for actually improving the health outcomes for children generally to older women.”

Adelaide mum Lorraine Scarr went through the IVF process herself and said the news meant women could cast aside any fears about being an older mum on the treatment.

“It’s saying something so positive, it’s something to be happy about,” she said.

Professor Michael Davies. Photo: 7 News
Professor Michael Davies. Photo: 7 News

The report also found that younger women conceiving through both IVF and ICSI (Introcytoplasmic sperm injection) had a greater chance of birth defects, with the highest risk being around the age of 29.

The university researchers studied every live birth in South Australia from 1986 to 2002, which included more than 301,000 natural births, 2200 IVF births and 1400 ICSI births.

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