Research recently published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggests the dramatic rise in birth defects during the last 25 years may be due to the increasing number of people turning to fertility treatments to conceive a baby.
The study highlighted two significant findings. The first was that during the years 1984 to 2007, there had been a 50 per cent increase in multiple births across 14 European countries. The second finding was that during the same time the number of birth defects increased from 5.9 babies in every 10,000 to 10.7.
The birth defects were not chromosome-related, such as Down's syndrome, but the type of defects that develop as the foetus grows during pregnancy, such as digestive issues and heart problems.
Study author, Dr Breidge Boyle said: “More research is needed but we suspect that the rise in birth defects among multiple births could be the result of assisted reproduction technology.”
Although, fertility experts agree that using modern fertility treatment may increase the likelihood of giving birth to a child with a defect, they contend the risk is very small at around 0.1 per cent of cases from all multiple births.
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