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Katrina's Aftermath: Failed Pregnancies for IVF Moms Nationwide
Date:10/18/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Hurricane Katrina's devastating effects six years ago appear to have extended beyond the Gulf Coast, with miscarriages and premature births among fertility patients rising markedly across the United States in the months after the disaster.

Researchers tracked outcomes for nearly 105,000 single-baby pregnancies among women who had undergone assisted reproductive technology (typically in vitro fertilization) across the country before and after the storm hit in August 2005.

The team found that pregnancies begun in the 18 months before the calamity were 87 percent less likely to end in a first-trimester miscarriage, compared to ART-assisted pregnancies initiated after the storm.

Pregnancies that began in the months and weeks before Katrina were also significantly less likely to result in extreme prematurity -- babies born before 26 weeks of gestation -- than conceptions occurring after the event.

After adjusting for other contributors to poor pregnancy outcomes, including patient age, infertility diagnosis and sperm source, the researchers also found that fertility patients across the United States were 63 percent less likely to suffer a miscarriage within the first four months of a pregnancy if their pregnancies had begun before Hurricane Katrina rather than after.

Stress may be the key here, experts said.

"We in the infertility field have always been concerned about the effects of stress or grief on reproductive success," said Dr. Mary Wood-Molo, medical director of the Center of Advanced Reproductive Care at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who was not involved in the study. "On some level I'm not surprised by this . . . with media exposure that continued to focus on the crisis and aftermath, it became more of a national crisis than a local crisis."

The findings, from data compiled by the Society for As
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