According to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Soroka University Medical Center, Women who conceive while using an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) have a greater risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight babies, bacterial infections, or losing a fetus

"We believe this is the first report tracking children born to mothers using an IUD over a long timeframe," said Dr. Gali Pariente, a faculty member of the BGU Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "Working with a large sample over 23 years allowed us to investigate obstetric parameters that hadn't been examined previously in large groups."

IUDs are the most popular form of reversible contraception worldwide. Nearly as effective as sterilization, yet not as permanent, they are the preferred birth control method for 23% of female contraceptive users, according to a 2015 United Nations report on world contraceptive use.

An IUD is recognized as a foreign body by the uterus, which produces an inflammatory reaction that impairs sperm implantation. Adding copper or progesterone enhances this response and stimulates further barriers that inhibit sperm from binding with an egg. The risk of IUD failure is highest within the first year of insertion.

In this new study, researchers compared the outcomes of 221,800 deliveries from 1991 to 2014. During that time, nearly one percent (203) of the women who delivered babies had an IUD which was removed early in the pregnancy, and six percent (149) retained their IUD throughout gestation.

Women who conceived with an IUD were more likely to have one or more adverse outcomes including:

  • Preterm delivery – 14.3% who removed their IUD and 14.1% who retained their IUD had preterm deliveries vs. 6.8 % without an IUD
  • Bacterial infection (chorioamnionitis) – Nearly five percent who removed their IUD and 2.7% who retained their IUD developed a bacterial infection vs. 0.6% without an IUD
  • Low birth weight – 11.3% who removed their IUD and 12.1% who retained their IUD delivered babies under five pounds vs. 6.6% without an IUD
  • Perinatal mortality – Two percent who removed their IUD and 1.3% who retained their IUD lost the fetus vs. 0.5% without an IUD

Dr. Pariente said, "Because of the elevated risks of severe, adverse short-term perinatal complications, we recommend careful monitoring of any women who conceive while using an IUD."