IVF children at higher risk of developing cancer

July 20th, 2010 - 3:32 am ICT by IANS  

London, July 20 (IANS) Children born through infertility treatment are 42 percent more likely to develop cancer.
Concerns have been raised that children born after fertility treatment are at greater risk of complications, congenital malformation and infertility problems.

The problems are not thought to be linked to the procedure itself but are more likely to be a result of infertility or complications that occur around birth such as prematurity and low birth weight.

Swedish researchers looked at over 26,000 children born after In-vitro Fertlisation (IVF) treatment. They found 53 children developed cancer, ranging from a very young age, up to 19 years, against an expected number of 38.

The cancers included leukaemia, cancers of the eye and nervous system, solid tumours and six cases of a condition called Langerhans histiocytosis.

IVF-conceived children were 87 percent more likely to have received a diagnosis of cancer by the age of three than the general population. After this age, the risk of cancer in IVF children reduced.

The study found that seven of the 53 children with cancer also had other problems including malformation and Down’s Syndrome which are known to have a strong link to cancer.

“We found a moderately increased risk for cancer in children who were conceived by IVF,” telegraph.co.uk quoted lead author Bengt Kallen, of the University of Lund in Sweden, as saying.

“This is probably not attributable to the IVF procedure itself but could be an effect of confounding from unidentified characteristics of women who undergo IVF or could act via the widely known increased risks for neonatal complication.”

“It should be stressed that the individual risk for a child who is born after IVF to develop childhood cancer is low. Additional studies on large populations are needed to permit analysis of such a rare outcome as cancer and notably of specific types,” Kallen added.

The findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

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