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Cognitive and behavioural outcome of children born after IVF at age 9

Some reassuring research was published last month involving the long term cognitive and behavioural outcomes of children conceived by ART.

Studies have already reassured us that IVF babies not only reach almost identical developmental milestones as babies conceived naturally, but a Dutch study also found that there was no increased risk of childhood cancer in children conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). But what about cognitive development long term? Does IVF affect the cognitive and behavioural development of children at say, 9 years?

The short answer is no, there was no association between IVF conceived children at 9 years. A study conducted in the Netherlands looked at the effects of ovarian stimulation and IVF on the cognitive and behavioural outcome of children at 9 years of age in an aim to distinguish if there’s any detrimental association.

To assess the cognitive outcome, the research team used a condensed IQ test known as the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) which looks at verbal, performance and full scale, and to evaluate the behavioural outcome, the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) and Teachers Report Form (TRF) were used.

The study found there was no difference in IQ between the ART group and the naturally conceived group and when observing the time taken to conceive, there was no association between the length of time and adverse behavioural outcomes. These results are incredibly reassuring to not only the parents involved with ART, but also the clinicians involved with the process who have dedicated their careers and lives to helping people start families all over the world.

Although there will always be more research that need to be done, the findings so far should provide some peace of mind to parents, future parents and IVF clinical staff who are involved with the ART industry.