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Blood Clots During Pregnancy More Likely After IVF, Study Says
Date:1/16/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Women who became pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) may have an increased risk of developing blood clots and potentially fatal artery blockage, Swedish investigators suggest.

Although the risk remains small, the odds are especially high during the first trimester compared to women who become pregnant naturally, the researchers said.

Blood clots -- called venous thromboembolism -- can develop in the leg veins and break free, traveling to the lungs and blocking a main artery. This condition, called pulmonary embolism, can cause difficulty breathing and even death.

"There is an increased incidence of pulmonary embolism and venous thrombosis among women pregnant after IVF," said lead researcher Dr. Peter Henriksson, a professor of internal medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. "Embolism is the leading cause of maternal mortality during pregnancy. The diagnosis can be elusive, so physicians should be aware of this risk to facilitate the diagnosis."

The risk of clotting during pregnancy isn't confined to women who undergo IVF, another experts said.

"Any pregnancy carries a risk of clotting," said Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of the Center for Human Reproduction at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

This is because hormones, particularly estrogen, increase during pregnancy, Hershlag said. "This changes what we call the clotting cascade," he said. "There are many factors in blood clotting that can be affected by hormones -- especially estrogen."

In addition, the enlarging uterus puts pressure on pelvic blood vessels, which can lead to clotting. Some women are advised to limit their movement to reduce the risk of clotting, Hershlag noted.

Although it's unclear why women who undergo IVF have a greater risk of clotting, Hershlag speculates that it could be due to fertility treatment
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