ESHRE: Birth Defect Risk Preferable to Childlessness in IVF Survey

June 23, 2006

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Many women awaiting in-vitro fertilization (IVF) would prefer to have a child with cerebral palsy or other birth defects rather than have no child at all, according to a study presented here.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, June 23 ? Many women awaiting in-vitro fertilization (IVF) would be more willing to have a child with cerebral palsy or other birth defects than have no child at all, according to a study presented here.

The study sheds light on why some couples prefer double-embryo transfer, which is believed to result in successful pregnancy more often than a single transfer but carries a greater risk of twin pregnancy and associated adverse outcomes, said investigators from Scotland.

The researchers based their findings on structured interviews with 81 women awaiting IVF, said Graham Scotland, a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting here.

The interviews presented women with a series of hypothetical scenarios and asked them to make choices between adverse outcomes such as cerebral palsy, cognitive impairment, visual impairment, perinatal death, or not having a child at all.

A "preference score" was given for each outcome. This score ranged from 1 (most preferred) to 0 (least preferred). Median scores for the outcomes studied, ranked in order of preference, are as follows:

  • Visual impairment: 0.975
  • Cognitive impairment: 0.973
  • Cerebral palsy: 0.940
  • Having no child: 0.802
  • Perinatal death: 0.725

Thus, having no child at all was valued significantly lower than having a child with physical, cognitive, or visual impairments (P