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Hum Reprod. 2006 Dec;21(12):3228-34. Epub 2006 Oct 5.

Does subfertility explain the risk of poor perinatal outcome after IVF and ovarian hyperstimulation?

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  • 1Division of Reproductive Medicine, Department of Gynaecology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.



The primary objective of this study was to investigate whether subfertility explains poor perinatal outcome after assisted conception. A secondary objective was to test the hypothesis that ovarian hyperstimulation rather than the IVF procedure may influence the perinatal outcome.


Using data from a Dutch population-based historical cohort of women treated for subfertility, we compared perinatal outcome of singletons conceived after controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COHS) and IVF (IVF + COHS; n = 2239) with perinatal outcome in subfertile women who conceived spontaneously (subfertile controls; n = 6343) and in women who only received COHS (COHS only; n = 84). Furthermore, we compared perinatal outcome of singletons conceived after the transfer of thawed embryos with (Stim + Cryo; n = 66) and without COHS (Stim - Cryo; n = 73).


The odds ratios (ORs) for very low birthweight (<1500 g) and low birthweight (1500-2500 g) were 2.8 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.9-3.9] and 1.6 (95% CI 1.2-1.8) in the IVF + COHS group compared with the subfertile control group. The ORs for very preterm birth (<32 weeks) and for preterm birth (32-37 weeks) were 2.0 (95% CI 1.4-2.9) and 1.5 (95% CI 1.3-1.8), respectively. Adjustment for confounders did not materially change these risk estimates. The difference in risk between the COHS-only group and the subfertile group was significant only for very low birthweight (OR 3.5; 95% CI 1.1-11.4), but the association became weaker after adjustment for maternal age and primiparity (OR 3.1; 95% CI 1.0-10.4). No significant difference in birthweight and preterm delivery was found between the group of children conceived after ovarian stimulation/ovulation induction and (Stim + Cryo) and the group of children conceived after embryo transfer of thawed embryos in a spontaneous cycle without ovarian stimulation/ovulation induction (Stim - Cryo).


The poor perinatal outcome in this database could not be explained by subfertility and suggests that other factors may be important in the known association between assisted conception and poor perinatal outcome.

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