Background: It is not known whether infants conceived with use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection or in vitro fertilization have a higher risk of birth defects than infants conceived naturally.
Methods: We obtained data from three registries in Western Australia on births, births after assisted conception, and major birth defects in infants born between 1993 and 1997. We assessed the prevalence of major birth defects diagnosed by one year of age in infants conceived naturally or with use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection or in vitro fertilization.
Results: Twenty-six of the 301 infants conceived with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (8.6 percent) and 75 of the 837 infants conceived with in vitro fertilization (9.0 percent) had a major birth defect diagnosed by one year of age, as compared with 168 of the 4000 naturally conceived infants (4.2 percent; P<0.001 for the comparison between either type of technology and natural conception). As compared with natural conception, the odds ratio for a major birth defect by one year of age, after adjustment for maternal age and parity, the sex of the infant, and correlation between siblings, was 2.0 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.3 to 3.2) with intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and 2.0 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.5 to 2.9) with in vitro fertilization. Infants conceived with use of assisted reproductive technology were more likely than naturally conceived infants to have multiple major defects and to have chromosomal and musculoskeletal defects.
Conclusions: Infants conceived with use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection or in vitro fertilization have twice as high a risk of a major birth defect as naturally conceived infants.