Assisted Reproduction Tied to Increased Risk for Vascular, Pregnancy Complications

By Reuters Staff

February 25, 2022

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women who become pregnant using in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) may be at increased risk for vascular and pregnancy-related complications, according to a new study.

The findings highlight the importance of counseling women who are considering ART about health and pregnancy, as well as postpartum-related risks, researchers note in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Especially patients with existing cardiovascular risk factors should be counseled about the potentially long-term cardiovascular implications and risks associated with ART," first author Dr. Pensee Wu of Keele University School of Medicine in Staffordshire, United Kingdom, said in a news release.

Using U.S. national inpatient data, the researchers analyzed more than 106,000 deliveries conceived with ART and 34 million deliveries conceived without ART.

Women who conceived with ART were older than women who conceived naturally (mean age, 35 vs. 28) and had more pre-existing health conditions, such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

ART-conceived pregnancies were independently associated with acute kidney injury (adjusted odds ratio, 2.52), arrhythmia (aOR, 1.65), placental abruption (aOR, 1.57), cesarean delivery (aOR, 1.38) and preterm birth (aOR, 1.26), even in women without cardiovascular disease risk factors or multifetal pregnancies.

ART-conceived pregnancies also incurred higher hospital charges than non-ART pregnancies (average $18,705 vs. $11,983).

While the researchers did not explore the relationship between ART and long-term cardiovascular disease, "there is growing understanding that additive adverse effects of infertility may have implications on long-term cardiovascular risks through shared pathogenesis and vascular dysfunction," the researchers note.

"It's important for women to know that assisted reproductive technology carries a higher risk of pregnancy complications, which require close monitoring, particularly during delivery," Dr. Wu said in the news release.

"Primary and specialist health care professionals should ensure these risks are communicated and strategies to mitigate them are discussed and implemented," Dr. Wu added.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Heart Association, online February 22, 2022.