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Northeastern University Professor Links Adverse Health Outcomes to Assisted Reproductive Technology in Massachusetts

Northeastern University nursing professor Angela Nannini co-authored the first population-based based study in the US comparing births conceived with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to those without ART or infertility medications, finding that the former is strongly associated with numerous chronic conditions and complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery. The paper, titled “A Population-Based Study of Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes Associated with Assisted Reproductive Technology in Massachusetts” appeared in the November issue of Maternal and Child Health Journal.

“During recent years, the number of ART-conceived infants in the US increased dramatically, and so did the number of documented cases of adverse health outcomes for both mothers and babies,” said Nannini, Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. “This trend underscores the need to study the possible link between ART and these outcomes and we are excited to have had the opportunity to access linked national and state-wide data for the first time to do so.”

Authors linked data from the US ART surveillance system with the Massachusetts live birth-infant death files for MA resident births in 1997-98, and analyzed associations between ART and maternal, perinatal and infant adverse outcomes. With a study population of over 150 thousand deliveries, the researchers found that ART births were associated with pre-existing diabetes, incompetent cervix, uterine bleeding, pregnancy-induced hypertension, placental abrubtion and placenta previa.

Even when excluding multiple births and matching single infants on key characteristics, study results found ART births suggest evidence that:

  • a persistent association with pre-existing maternal conditions and labor and delivery complications
  • ART births are associated with prolonged newborn hospital stays due to low birth weight, preterm delivery and other factors
  • although ART mothers were more likely to start prenatal care early receive many more visits than their non-ART counterparts, they are still the ones with the most concerning adverse health outcomes

“Our findings can help providers to become better equipped to care for women using ART and to provide appropriate counseling relevant to potential health risks,” added Nannini. “Further studies are needed to uncover the mechanisms underlying the association between ART and adverse outcomes, and also to assess postnatal development of ART and non-ART children.”

The study was co-authored by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Consortium for Assisted Reproductive Technology Epidemiologic Research representing infertility clinics.

For more information, please contact Renata Nyul at 617-373-7424 or at r.nyul@neu.edu.

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions. For more information, please visit www.northeastern.edu.