IVF Babies and an Increased Risk of Reflux

By Dovidena (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Women who have babies that were conceived by in-vitro fertilization are more likely to experience long-term symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux disorder or GERD, according to a study published in the UEG Journal. A research team in Turkey compared two groups of women who had given birth to their first child in the previous year and found those who used IVF to conceive were three times more likely to be diagnosed with GERD.

Pregnancy and GERD

Gastro-esophageal reflux disorder is a very common condition in which acid from the stomach comes back up into the esophageal tube and results in heartburn. The acid from the stomach is commonly regurgitated and then swallowed. The reason why most cases of GERD develop is because of a weak esophagus. Pregnancy is a known risk factor for the condition and it affects nearly half of all women. Pregnancy related GERD is typically a temporary problem, but it can put a woman at an increased risk for future episodes.

Pregnancy and GERD

In the very first study of its kind, researchers looked at GERD in women who conceived a baby through IVF. Approximately 156 women who were first time mothers of twins or singleton pregnancies were interview in person and data was collected on their pregnancies. A diagnosis of GERD was first made if heart burn, regurgitation or both, happened on a weekly basis. Data collected from the group was pitted against an age-matched control group who had conceived a baby naturally and had completed the same diagnostic questionnaire for GERD during a different study.

The prevalence of GERD at the time the information was collected was found to be 13.5% in the group of females who had conceived via IVF when compared to just 4.5% in women who had conceived a baby naturally. In the IVF group of females, the incidence of GERD was higher in women who gave birth to twins, than in those who had one baby. The reasons why IVF women have a higher incidence of gastro-esophageal reflux disorder is not clear.

The authors of the study believe there are a number of different possibilities as to why GERD is higher in women who conceive via IVF. These reasons include the medications used during IVF, psychological issues that are associated with infertility struggles and even the belief that women who undergo IVF may spend greater periods of time lying down due to fear of having a miscarriage.

Conclusion to the Study

Dr. Oliver Pech, the head of gastroenterology and interventional endoscopy at the St. John of God Hospital in Germany stated,” These are interesting findings and UEG would welcome further research in this area to determine whether these results can be replicated in long-term, prospective studies. If so, we really need to investigate how we might prevent the development of GERD in all pregnant women, but particularly in those who receive IVF treatment.”


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