Reports suggest that babies born after assisted reproductive technology (ART) are more likely to be admitted to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) than their naturally conceived (NC) peers (RR 1.27 (1.16–1.40) Helmerhorst et al1). The confidentiality afforded these pregnancies by HFEA (1991) meant regional follow-up studies were not possible within the UK setting. The authors have developed a consent based registry of children born, in N Ireland, after ART (NICART) which allows such follow-up. N Ireland also has a Regional database of admissions to NICU (NICORE).
The authors aim to compare the admission rates to NICU of ART babies and their NC peers born in each of the major obstetric units in N Ireland.
Using NICART, all admissions of ART babies for years 2001–2007 inclusive were identified for the seven NICUs in N Ireland. Denominator data of all admissions/unit and all deliveries/unit were collated for 2001–2007.
309/1530 (20.2%) ART babies born in 2001–2007 were admitted to NICU compared to 13 716/127 953 (10.7%) NC peers. Results for each obstetric unit separately show an increased admission rate for ART babies compared to NC peers (28.3% vs 11.0%: 26.8% vs 11.6%: 21.5% vs 11.2%: 28.9% vs 9.4%: 10.4% vs 9.7%: 18.1% vs 10.5%: 14.5% vs 11.1%).
In N Ireland ART babies are twice as likely to be admitted to NICU than their NC peers. However admission rates vary widely between the seven units.
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