Reuters reports that women who had CVS testing done during pregnancy may have a higher risk of having a baby born with an infantile hemangioma. CVS or Chorionic villus sampling is a test that is done in early pregnancy to screen for genetic birth defects like Down Syndrome.
Dr. Lewis B Holmes of Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Boston reviewed several previously published studies to see if the procedure was linked to certain birth defects including hemangiomas and limb defects. Dr. Holmes’ findings were published in the December Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.
There have only been a handful of studies on CVS-exposed infants and hemangiomas, but one study compared CVS-exposed infants with infants exposed to amniocentesis. The study found that 12 percent of the 95 CVS-exposed infants were born with cavernous or strawberry hemangiomas, while only 3 percent of the 87 amniocentesis-exposed infants were born with them. A different study had similar findings. Hemangiomas were found in 21 percent of the CVS-exposed babies in this study, compared to only 7 percent of amniocentesis-exposed babies.
Dr. Holmes’ report also found a link between limb defects and CVS. One multi-state study found that limb defects were six times more common in CVS-exposed babies than unexposed babies.
One of the reasons pregnant women opt to have the CVS test is because it can be done earlier in a woman’s pregnancy than amniocentesis, another test used to screen for genetic disorders. The test is generally done around 10-12 weeks. The risk of birth defects from CVS, however, appears to be greater if the test is performed very early in pregnancy such as around 8-9 weeks of pregnancy, according to the report.
Still, since CVS is used to screen for serious genetic diseases, it still may be beneficial for pregnant women. A written statement from the journal’s editor-in-chief said, "The benefits of knowing the test results could outweigh the possible risk of hemangiomas or other abnormalities."