Study: IVF doesn't contribute to developmental delays in children

Researchers found no significant difference in rates of developmental delays between children whose mothers had IVF and those who did not.

By Stephen Feller

BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- In vitro fertilization does not contribute to developmental delays up to age 3, according to a new study conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

Because many couples who use IVF to have children are older, the range of health and other concerns can be a factor for fetal development. The study showed, however, that developmental delays are not more prevalent among children conceived through IVF.


Researchers said the new study also said children conceived through IVF were not at greater risk with full-blown developmental disabilities such as learning disabilities, speech or language disorders, or autism.

"When we began our study, there was little research on the potential effects of conception via fertility treatments on U.S. children," Dr. Edwina Yeung, an investigator at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a press release. "Our results provide reassurance to the thousands of couples who have relied on these treatments to establish their families."

In the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers reviewed data on 4,824 mothers of 5,841 children collected between 2008 and 2010 in New York state, excluding New York City. Of the children, 1,830 were conceived with IVF and 2,074 were twins. Data on delays was collected by questionnaires at 4, 8, 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months.


The researchers found no significant difference between IVF and non-treatment groups of children with developmental delays -- 13 percent of children conceived with IVF had a delay, while 18 percent of those not conceived with treatment had a delay.

"Patients with infertility are often older, and may have medical conditions," Dr. Norbert Gleicher, medical director of the Center for Human Reproduction, told HealthDay. "You have to be able to differentiate those potential effects from any effects of the fertility treatment, per se. [The results of this study] should be reassuring."

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