Impact of fertility treatment on severe maternal morbidity

Fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization and non-in vitro fertilization, is associated with an increased risk of severe maternal morbidity.

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Volume 106, Issue 2, Pages 423-426


Erica T. Wang, M.D., M.A.S., John A. Ozimek, D.O., Naomi Greene, Ph.D., Lauren Ramos, M.D., Nina Vyas, B.S., Sarah J. Kilpatrick, M.D., Ph.D., Margareta D. Pisarska, M.D.



To determine if fertility treatment is associated with increased risk of severe maternal morbidity (SMM) compared with spontaneous pregnancies.


Retrospective cohort study.


Academic medical center.


In 2012, 6,543 women delivered live births >20 weeks gestation at our center. Women were categorized based on mode of conception: in vitro fertilization (IVF), non-IVF fertility treatment (NIFT), or spontaneous pregnancies.



Main Outcome Measure(s)

The main outcome was presence of true SMM, such as eclampsia, respiratory failure, and peripartum hysterectomy. Deliveries were screened with the use of: 1) International Classification of Diseases 9 codes; 2) prolonged postpartum stay; 3) maternal intensive care unit admissions, and 4) blood transfusion. The charts of women meeting the screening criteria were reviewed to identify true SMM based on a previously validated method, recognizing that medical record review is the criterion standard.


Of the 6,543 deliveries, 246 (3.8%) were IVF conceptions and 109 (1.7%) NIFT conceptions. Sixty-nine cases of true SMM were identified (1.1%). In multivariate analyses, any fertility treatment (IVF + NIFT) was associated with increased risk of SMM compared with spontaneous conceptions. In a subset analysis of singletons only, the association between any fertility treatment (IVF + NIFT) and SMM was not statistically significant.


Overall, fertility treatment increased risk for SMM events. Given the limited sample size, the negative finding with singleton gestations is inconclusive. Larger multicenter studies with accurate documentation of fertility treatment and SMM cases are needed to further clarify the risk associated with singletons.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility┬« is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.