The Uterus, Not Eggs, May Determine Healthy Pregnancy

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When it comes to in-vitro fertilization, getting the best eggs may not be the only thing that makes for a healthy pregnancy. Recent research, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that a woman’s uterus had more to do with her pregnancy than the eggs she was using.

Earlier research has found that women with babies born via IVF have babies that are smaller and come earlier than those conceived the natural way. For years, researchers assumed this was because of the IVF procedure rather than outside factors. But new research may show pregnancy in a new light.

The new research compared women who used donor eggs and their own wombs verses those who had surrogates. The women who used surrogates had babies that were healthier and larger than women using their own wombs. The researchers believe this may be because some of the issues surrounding infertility could affect how a baby grows and develops.

We don’t understand a lot about what’s going on in the uterus,” says William Gibbons, lead author and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine. “But this was further evidence that something is going on with the uterus because if you used someone else’s uterus, these babies weighed more.”

Becoming pregnant still relies on how healthy a woman’s eggs are. But once pregnancy is confirmed, it may be the state of her uterus that affects the overall outcome. As more and more couples are turning to IVF, doctors have been looking at the obstetrical outcomes for these children. Doctors want babies that stay in the womb longer and are born healthier, common problems associated with IVF.

William Gibbons, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine, and colleagues from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) looked at figures from three years to get the data for this study. The researchers looked at the average birth weight and gestation for 70,000 single births born as a result of IVF, IVF using donor eggs and IVF with a surrogate.

Women with female infertility had babies with a lower birth weight and shorter gestation time. Gibbons and researchers believe this is because of the environment inside the womb that may affect how a child grows during pregnancy. More research is being planned to find out if there is an exact link between female infertility and pregnancy problems.- Summer, staff writer

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About the Author

Summer is a mom of three, living life in the slow lane along historic Route 66. She writes, homeschools, gardens, and is still trying to learn how to knit.

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