In 2017, IVF babies had a 10% low birth weight risk; Non-IVF Babies had 8% risk
Findings point to dramatic strides forward for IVF safety, success
BASKING RIDGE, NJ, October 14, 2019 – For the first time since the advent of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) over four decades ago, babies born through the procedure have equaled their naturally-conceived counterparts in birth weights, new research conducted by Reproductive Medicine Associates (RMA) and presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) shows.
In a study analyzing nearly 20,000 births stemming from IVF treatment at RMA’s flagship center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, from 2000 to 2017, researchers found a steady increase in birth weights over time that in 2017 reached parity with babies born without assisted reproduction. The gradual reduction in low birth weight risk has coincided with major breakthroughs in fertility medicine over the last two decades.
Of all the babies born to mothers that received IVF in 2017, only 10.7% were born with a low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams), RMA found, compared with 8.3% of babies conceived naturally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Babies born through IVF in 2000, on the other hand, when the fertility industry was still in its infancy and multiples were routine, had a 36.5% chance of being born with a low birth weight.
“In a little over 15 years, we’ve seen a greater than three-fold reduction in risk for low birth weight in IVF babies,” said Dr. Julia Kim, a second-year RMA fellow who led the retrospective study.
“Patients can find comfort in the fact that today, IVF no longer equates to premature, preterm twins that may spend weeks in the neonatal unit – it now means one healthy baby, born with the same birth weight as a naturally-conceived infant.”
The decrease in risk comes as the industry, led largely by research conducted at RMA, practices an entirely new standard of care than it did even ten years ago. That standard of care, based on Single Embryo Transfer (SET), allows doctors to dramatically reduce multiple gestation pregnancy and increase the chances of implantation, full-term pregnancy and delivery of one healthy baby.
At RMA, 97% of all embryo transfers involve one embryo, and the practice’s twin rate is only 2.5%, on par with the national, naturally-conceived twin rate of 2.4%, according to the CDC. RMA’s very low birth weight risk for IVF babies, 2.1%, also mirrors the national risk of 1.4% for babies conceived naturally.
“RMA’s singleton babies have birth weights equivalent to babies conceived naturally, term delivery rates similar to babies conceived naturally, and spend far fewer days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) than IVF twins,” said RMA founding partner Dr. Richard Scott.
“Simply put, this research is evidence of the closing gap between IVF and natural conception, and is very good news for those struggling with infertility.”
The birth weight study is one of dozens of pieces of research RMA presents at ASRM as the practice marks its 20th anniversary this year. Since founding October 1, 1999, RMA has helped bring more than 40,000 babies to loving families, and continues to be the leading investor of IVF research in the U.S.