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Birth Risks Associated with Fertility Treatments

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

When pregnancy isn’t possible naturally, fertility treatments are one alternative. Although these procedures can be successful in helping women to become pregnant, they do come with birth risks.

Side Effects Associated with Fertility Treatments

Side effects can develop from fertility treatments; commonly, the treatment could result in multiples (twins, triplets or even higher). There are numerous factors that may play into the likelihood of this, including the type of fertility drug taken, dosage and the body’s reaction to it.

Although for some this may not be what they would call a risk – and, in fact, may be a desired outcome — there are still important issues that need to be considered with having multiples. It is not uncommon for there to be complications.

The following are examples of birth risks that can develop when a woman is pregnant with multiples as a result of fertility treatments:

  • gestational diabetes (which can give the unborn babies high levels of blood glucose);
  • miscarriage;
  • premature birth (which can lead to learning disabilities, delays in development, cerebral palsy and other health conditions); and
  • pre-eclampsia (can cause damage to mother’s liver, kidney, brain or develop into a deadly condition, eclampsia).

Although patients sometimes are offered the option to reduce the number of fetuses carried, this in itself could carry significant psychological distress in having to make such a decision. Weighing the risks and benefits can be very stressful and traumatic.

Another side effect from fertilization is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). The ovaries fill up with fluid, become enlarged and could cause kidney failure or blood clots.

This risk is increased with higher doses of fertility drugs, so careful and close monitoring is critical.

Some fertility drugs also can cause uncomfortable side effects, such as moodiness, menopausal symptoms (headaches, insomnia, hot flashes), depression, irritability and enlarged ovaries (which causes the abdomen to expand and may lead to pain, vomiting and nausea).

Birth Defect Risks when Undergoing Fertility Treatments

A specific type of fertility treatment, in-vitro fertilization (sperm and egg are fertilized outside the body, in a laboratory dish), has been linked to a higher risk of birth defects. Although it’s not a significant risk, it is still one that needs to be considered.

The following are some of the malformations (defects) that may develop when a woman undergoes in-vitro fertilization:

  • reproductive system;
  • eyes;
  • urinary system; and
  • heart.

Breast Cancer Risks with Fertility Treatments

Although there isn’t concrete evidence that connects fertility treatments to breast cancer, it is a potential risk that may need to be evaluated. For women who have never had a child and are over the age of 32, the risk may be higher.

Some researchers believe the hormones contained in treatments that encourage fertilization could be a contributing factor. Studies have shown varying results, but it is definitely something to be kept in mind when weighing all the pros and cons of undergoing treatments to help fertilization.

There can be a variety of legal issues that a lawyer can address that arise when it comes to fertility treatments. The failure to warn of risks and side effects or failure to monitor and prevent injuries that occur during pregnancy may be some of these issues. If there are concerns regarding medical negligence, contact The Becker Law Firm to determine if a claim is possible.

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