Reproductive technology linked to birth defects, childhood leukemia

February 4, 2016 07:23
1 minute read.


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Women who use in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other reproductive technologies may be more likely to have children with certain cancers or developmental delays than their peers who conceive the old-fashioned way, two new studies suggest.

The increased risk of complications may be due at least in part to advanced maternal age and other health factors that lead women to try assisted reproductive technology (ART) in the first place, say authors of both studies published today in Pediatrics. They also caution that the findings are too preliminary to deter women from trying to conceive this way.

"At this point in time, we don't believe the weight of the available evidence is strong enough to suggest that women should not proceed with ART," Melissa Bondy, an oncology researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who wrote an editorial accompanying the cancer study, said by email.

That's because the cancer study, like a lot of other research exploring the roots of birth defects and childhood disease, couldn't randomly assign some women to try ART just to see how their children turned out.

Instead, the researchers mined data from birth records for all children born in Norway between 1984 and 2011, pairing it with cancer registry data. The study included more than 1.6 million kids, including almost 26,000 conceived with ART.

Out of about 4,500 cancers, 51 occurred in ART-conceived children.

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