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TUESDAY, Jan. 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Assisted reproductive technology -- or fertility treatments -- to help conceive a baby is growing safer in the United States and is now a low-risk procedure, according to a new study.
The researchers found the risk of complications was low for both "autologous procedures" -- where women use their own eggs -- as well as donor-assisted procedures.
As the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in the United States increases, efforts have been made to improve patient safety. These safety measures include using less aggressive medication regimens to stimulate ovulation. And egg retrieval before ovulation is no longer done through laparoscopic surgery, but through a less invasive vaginal procedure, according to background information with the study.
To gain a better understanding of how these changes have improved ART complication rates, the researchers examined statistics and trends in reported complications from both patients and donors involved in fresh (not frozen) assisted reproductive technology.
The findings were published in the Jan. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The decade-long review, led by Dr. Jennifer Kawwass of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, spanned the years 2000 to 2011. It was based on a surveillance system established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study authors noted in a journal news release.
The researchers said reported complications had to be directly related to assisted reproductive technology and take place within 12 weeks of the procedure. Possible problems included infection, bleeding, complications related to anesthesia, hospitalization, and death.
Among nearly 1.2 million ART cycles where women used their own eggs, the most commonly reported patient complications were ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) -- an overreaction to ovarian stimulation -- and hospitalization.
"Increased awareness of the most common complication, OHSS, may prompt additional study to characterize predictors of this and other adverse events to inform the development of effective approaches necessary to decrease complication occurrence," the study authors wrote.
The researchers noted that rates of all other complications remained below 10 per 10,000 cycles.
The study authors said they identified 58 deaths associated with ART during the study period. Of these, 18 deaths were related to ovarian stimulation and 40 others occurred before delivery. Overall, the death rates for women who had an ART-conceived live birth ranged from 14.2 per 100,000 in 2004 to 1.6 per 100,000 in 2008.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
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