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IVF Kids 'Should Be Monitored Into Adulthood'

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Saturday, July 28, 2007 | 0 comments

The health of babies born through IVF treatment should be monitored well into adulthood, warns new research.

The risks of complications both during and after pregnancy are significantly higher for test tube infants than naturally conceived children.

Not enough is known about the consequences of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and these children require many years of follow up to fully understand them.

Previous research has suggested children born by these assisted reproduction techniques (ART) are more likely to develop illnesses, including cancer.

Dr Alastair Sutcliffe, of the Institute of Child Health at University College London, said: "Long term follow up of children born after ART to reproductive age and beyond is necessary."

Dr Sutcliffe and Dr Michael Ludwig, of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecologic Endocrinology in Hamburg, reviewed data published between 1980 and 2005 on IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection and used 3,980 articles to compile their analysis.

They found the biggest risk for ART is that multiple births may occur, but a number of other risks are also evident from ART techniques.

Miscarriages are between 20 and 34 per cent higher, possibly because ART couples are generally older and also due to endocrine disorders, organic abnormalities and the degree of ovarian stimulation.

For couples using ART, the risk of pre-eclampsia occurring is increased by 55 per cent, while there is also an increased risk of still birth (155 per cent), low birthweight (70 to 77 per cent) very low birthweight (170 to 200 per cent), or the baby being small for gestational age (40 to 60 per cent increased risk).

Risk of major malformations is 30 per cent higher in babies born to ART couples, regardless of the technique although the absolute risk is still small.

And there is also a higher risk of cerebral palsy in children born to ART couples, partly because of the risk associated with increased premature birth and partly because some twin pregnancies undergo early miscarriage of one of a sibling which is associated with an added risk of cerebral palsy.

But mentally, babies born full term after ART progress healthily in relation to naturally conceived children, and there are no concerns about family relationships and psychological issues afterwards.

Dr Sutcliffe said: "Some of the risks to children born after ART do not arise as a result of the techniques but from the background biology of the subfertile couple.

"Many unknowns exist about the health of children conceived after ART as they grow, which remain to be fully addressed."

The researchers, whose findings are published in The Lancet, focussed mainly on ART single births since multiple ones bring with them their own set of confounding complications.

Added Dr Sutcliffe: "In-vitro fertilisation has been done for nearly 30 years; in developed countries at least 1% of births are from ARTs. These children now represent a substantial portion of the population but little is known about their health."

The researchers said there are several points for consideration when counselling couples seeking treatment for infertility


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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