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Donor-Egg In Vitro Appears Safe for Older Women

By Heidi Anne Duerr, MPH

Women over the age of 50 who achieve a viable pregnancy via donor-egg in vitro fertilization (D-IVF) have no greater incidence of adverse outcomes than younger women, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Perinatology.

The authors concluded that, “Women ≥ 50 years who achieve pregnancy via D-IVF are at high risk for maternal complications, particularly hypertensive disorders and cesarean section, but at rates similar to those seen in younger recipients.”

Dr. Daniel H. Kort, a postdoctoral fellow from the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, and colleagues examined the safety profile of pregnancies via IVF with donor eggs through a large, single-center case series and retrospective cohort analysis via a controlled study. The authors compared perinatal outcomes for women 50 years old or older (N=101) who achieved a viable pregnancy via D-IVF with the outcomes of women 42 years of age or younger (N=41) who also achieved viable pregnancy via D-IVF. Their study is the largest single-center study of its kind.

Kort and colleagues did not find a statistically significant difference in the rate of adverse outcomes between the two groups. Compared to their younger cohorts, older women had statistically similar rates of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (23% versus 14%, odds ratio=1.9), gestational diabetes (4.0% versus 3.0%, odds ratio=1.4), preterm premature rupture of membranes/preterm labor (8.9% versus 14%, odds ratio=0.59), and abnormal placentation (2.1% versus 0%). Rates of cesarean section were higher among the group of older women.
Neonatal outcomes were also similar across the groups of women. Kort et al. found excellent gestational age and birth weight statistics in both the older women and younger women; the researchers noted these outcomes were similar across the groups.
In a statement to the press, Kort added, “Although many social and ethical questions surround the use of assisted reproductive technology by this age group, the current study confirms the high success rate and relative safety of such pregnancies in well-cared-for women.”
“It is imperative that all older women undergo thorough medical screening before attempting pregnancy to ensure the best possible outcome,” added co-author Dr. Mark Sauer, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. “But, really, that should apply to younger women, as well.”