According to the ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) statistics, each year approximately 1-2 million in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments are performed. These IVFs result in around 8 million children. The safety of the treatment and the long-term results of it have been studied since the early days of its invention. However, there are still some ambiguities when it comes to evaluating the risk for cancer among children born through IVF.

A recent study conducted by Dutch scientists assessed the risk for cancer among children born in fertility clinics in Netherlands. They have been examining 47 690 children during a median of 21 years of follow up. 231 children (93 born through IVF and 138 conceived without ART) were diagnosed with cancer at different age and stage.

According to the study’s findings, he overall cancer risk was not higher among IVF-born babies compared with naturally conceived children. These results contradict those obtained a few years back by other researches.

Israeli study conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2017 showed that IVF babies have higher cancer risk. The results were based on the observation of 242 187 babies born between 1991 and 2013 in Israel. During the 10 following years some children were diagnosed with neoplasms, the incidence rate was significantly higher among children after IVF.

Another research was conducted by University of Minnesota and is considered the largest study of childhood cancer. The dataset available to researchers consisted of 275 686 records of IVF children and 2 266 847 records of naturally born children. The study found that overall cancer rate of IVF children was 17% higher that for non-IVF children. The risk for some tumors was over 2.5 times higher among IVF children than non-IVF children.

The problem with Dutch study is that it was based solely on the records from the fertility centers, meaning only accounted for babies carried by women who had some fertility problems. The population could have been higher to avoid any bias, and the comparison with the overall healthy population is necessary.

For many scientists it’s logically correct to assume that IVF children are more prone to developing cancer as they are born from embryos that were left outside of the woman’s body studies are needed to prove the link between IVF and cancer. 


Photo by New York Post
Based on the article by Medscape journal

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