What You Need To Know

Blood clots in pregnancies from IVF have been found to be on the rise. What is the overall risk, and what should you look out for -- even if you have an old-fashioned pregnancy?

Woman at the doctor

Blood clots in pregnancy, while rare, are no joke -- some can even be fatal. Recent research has found that women whose pregnancies are the result of in vitro fertilization (IVF) have a greater risk of blood clots.

About blood clots

A blood clot in the vein is called venous thrombosis, and a blood clot in a lung artery is called a pulmonary embolism. Some blood clots, particularly those that are in deeper tissues in the legs, can break off and become lodged in the lungs. A blood clot in the lung is a huge deal -- it can be fatal.

The risk

The overall risk of a blood clot during a pregnancy is very low -- studies show it happens in about one out of every one thousand pregnancies. However, recent research has revealed that moms with IVF pregnancies are approximately four times more likely to experience venous thrombosis, and seven times more likely to experience pulmonary embolism.

To find these figures, researchers in Sweden studied 23,498 women who had given birth after IVF from 1990 to 2008 and compared them with 116,960 women of the same age and same general health who had traditional pregnancies.

“Women who are going to have IVF should know these findings,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Peter Henriksson, a professor of internal medicine at the Karolinska Institute. “And if they have had blood clots themselves, or have relatives with thrombosis, they should be treated with blood thinners.”

Danger signs

Signs that you may have deep vein thrombosis and should consult a doctor:

  • Swelling in the leg, ankle or the foot
  • Warmth in the affected area
  • Changes in the skin color in the area
  • Pain in the leg, similar to a calf cramp or charley horse

Signs that you may have a pulmonary embolism and should seek immediate emergency medical help:

  • Sudden and unexplained shortness of breath
  • Feeling anxious
  • Sweating
  • Increase in pulse
  • Feeling lightheaded, dizzy
  • Coughing up blood

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