With substantial changes to ART practices in the past decade, researchers have been keen to track child health outcomes, which can then be used to outline risks to prospective parents.
The Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database (ANZARD) was established to monitor perinatal outcomes for all ART births and to assess the effectiveness of treatments. However, this register does not report information about birth defect risks or monitor longer-term health outcomes in ART children. Western Australia is the only State with a statutory ART register that includes information about all IVF treatment in the State. This information can be linked to other population-based registers to track health outcomes for the children born.
While there have been encouraging improvements in perinatal outcomes for ART-conceived children over time (such as fewer ART babies being born preterm or of low birthweight), the information about birth defect risk is very out of date – relating to births from 1993-2002.
A current study is aimed at addressing this gap and will examine all births in WA from 2003-2014 and compare foetal growth, birth defects and cerebral palsy in children born following ART, natural conception, and conception using ovulation induction drugs outside the ART clinic setting.
The study will also compare health outcomes within the ART group for children born following a range of different treatment procedures such as fresh vs frozen-thawed embryo transfer, rapid vs slow freezing techniques and standard IVF vs ICSI.
The research will also examine how different causes of underlying infertility contribute to child health outcomes.