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Difficult conception tied to pregnancy complications

High-risk pregnancies are more likely in women who have difficulty getting pregnant, with or without help from hi-tech fertility treatments.

Difficult conception tied to pregnancy complications

High-risk pregnancies are more likely in women who have difficulty getting pregnant, with or without help from hi-tech fertility treatments.

Earlier studies had shown that women who conceived using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and other fertility treatments had a higher risk of complications during pregnancy. What was less clear was whether the complications were linked to the technology used or to the mother's underlying health issues.

To address this issue, researchers from Australia analysed the pregnancies of 2,171 subfertile women who sought fertility treatment between 1991 and 2001 but went on to become pregnant and give birth without using assisted reproductive technologies. Their pregnancies were compared to a randomly selected group of 4,363 women who gave birth without using any assisted reproductive technique.

It was found that compared to the control group, subfertile women were more likely to have pregnancy complications. For example, about 8 percent of these women had high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia - a potentially dangerous condition, marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, that develops in the second or third trimester - compared to about 5 percent of those in the general population. About 35 percent of the subfertile women required cesarean sections, compared to 23 percent in the general population. Other increased risks included premature birth and low birth weight babies. Even infant mortality, though rare, was higher at 1.3 percent in the subfertile group compared to 0.7 percent in the general population.

After taking into account other risk factors for premature delivery, including previous abortions, previous pregnancies and live births, and whether the patient gave birth in a public or private hospital, it was seen that subfertility in itself was strongly linked with premature birth.

The study results call for better care of subfertile women, when they become pregnant, to minimise expected complications. Though the study identifies the problem but does not explain why risks during the pregnancies of subfertile women are higher.
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