Details of Publication 521 for Project A296:

Herbert D, Lucke J & Dobson A. Infertility resolved with or without fertility treatment in Australian women aged 31-36 years: a prospective, population-based study. American Journal of Epidemiology (Abstracts of the 3rd North American Congress of Epidemiology), 2011; 173(supp1): 944-S

Birth outcomes during a three year period were compared for women with a history of infertility who did or did not use fertility treatment with hormones and/or in vitro fertilisation. Participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health born in 1973-78 were randomly selected from the universal public health insurance database and completed up to five mailed surveys (1996-2009). Participants reported on their infertility and use of treatment at age 28-33 years (survey 4 (S4) in 2006) and 31-36 years (survey 5 (S5) in 2009). The odds of resolved infertility at S5 were estimated using logistic regression with adjustment for age, area of residence, private health insurance and male infertility. Among 7280 women who responded to both S4 and S5, 18.6% (n=1378) reported infertility. More than half (n=804, 56.8%) of these women did not use treatment and 43.9% (n=347) gave birth between S4 and S5. Compared to infertile women who did not use treatment, women who used treatment were more likely at S5 to have recently given birth (odds ratio (OR) =1.59, 95% CI 1.26-2.00) or be pregnant (OR=1.77, 1.27-2.46). Further, women who used treatment were more likely to have twins (3.37, 1.18-9.62), premature births (1.52, 0.95-2.43), or low birthweight babies (1.83, 0.70-2.53) compared to women who gave birth without using treatment. Many women aged up to 36 years with a history of infertility can conceive naturally over a three year period without the use of treatment. Women who have never had a prior birth may need to use treatment to resolve their infertility but they are at higher risk of poorer perinatal outcomes, such as premature or low birthweight babies.