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The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Since 1978 when the first “petri dish” baby was born, In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has been used as a tool to give couples struggling with infertility the opportunity to have children. Using this method of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), the woman is given medication to stimulate her ovaries for the maturation of multiple eggs, which are then retrieved via needle aspiration, fertilized in a petri dish, and inserted in the uterus with the hopes of achieving a successful pregnancy. Many times IVF is completed with another technique known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), where the sperm is injected straight into the egg increasing the chance of fertilization. In 2002, researchers discovered a clear association between an increased risk for birth defects with the use of In-Vitro Fertilization and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. Since then, multiple studies were conducted to determine whether it is instigated by a mechanism of IVF itself, or influenced by the infertility problems of the couple (Hansen et al., 2002). There are various reasonable explanations for the findings of the surfeit occurrence of birth defects in pregnancies with use of IVF or ICSI. Firstly, the advanced age of couples undergoing infertility treatments could be the basis for the underlying increase in birth defects. Maternal factors such as obesity, metabolic disease, and chronic health issues are independent factors proven to increase the risk for birth defects as well (Davies MJ et al., 2012). Factors associated with the treatment such as, freezing and thawing of embryos, exposure of oocytes or embryos to a culture medium, or ICSI gamete manipulation, could also contribute Additional explanations point to the medications given to induce follicular numbers, or to speed the maturation of follicles into oocytes (Hansen et al., 2002). This paper reviews numerous studies that have been done to resolve the question at hand.

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