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Fertility drugs contribute heavily to multiple births
Date:1/20/2010

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JANUARY 2010 -- The widespread use of so-called fertility drugs, not just high-tech laboratory procedures, likely plays a larger role than previously realized in the growing problem of premature births in the United States, because these drugs cause a high percentage of multiple births, the March of Dimes said today.

The organization's comments came in response to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology by authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the March of Dimes that found controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) drugs -- used to stimulate a woman's ovaries to speed the maturity and multiply the production of eggs -- accounts for four times more live births than assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) such as in vitro fertilization.

"Many people have focused on the role of ARTs in multiples and have not fully appreciated that fertility drugs alone are responsible for one out of every five multiple births," said Alan R. Fleischman, M.D., medical director of the March of Dimes. "COH drugs are widely prescribed, and some health care professionals and their patients -- are not aware of the serious risks of fertility drugs to women and their babies. There is a very high possibility of multi-fetal pregnancy resulting from use of these drugs, and that brings a high risk of prematurity and lifelong health problems for the babies as a consequence."

"The March of Dimes urges more research and leadership from professional societies to develop specific guidelines and encourage acceptance of best practices for the proper use and dosage of fertility drugs, as well as the careful counseling and monitoring of women treated with these drugs. Women who are taking fertility drugs should always ask their doctor what they can do to prevent having a multi-fetal pregnancy," Dr. Fleischman said.

Dr. Fleischman noted that approximately 88,000 babies are born preter
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Contact: Elizabeth Lynch
elynch@marchofdimes.com
914-997-4286
March of Dimes Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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