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No link found between ART-conceived children and increased risk of cancer

Is there a risk of cancer in children and young adults conceived by assisted reproductive technology? Some very reassuring results have been released this month.

In the past 40 years, the IVF industry has grown and the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) has increased dramatically. It is estimated that approximately over 6 million babies have been born as a result of ART and the number is growing.

Obviously, one of the main concerns that new parents or future parents have is the long term health implications of any child they conceive through IVF and a major fear that is raised is the increased risk of cancer. Previous studies have suggested that there could potentially be a link but fell short with the amount of information and data supplied, concluding that it is not clear whether other factors underlying sub-fertility were contributing causes.

A nationwide study was conducted in the Netherlands, looking at all children born as a result of ART between 1980 and 2001, and compared that with children who were naturally conceived born to sub-fertile women.

The results are in and it’s all good news: the study published in Human Reproduction found that there is no increased risk of cancer in children born through ART.

The study looked at almost 50,000 children born in that time period and the cancer risk in ART-conceived children was compared with the risks in children conceived naturally. They found that the overall cancer risk was not increased in children who were conceived through ART, neither compared to the naturally conceived children from sub-fertile women nor compared with the general public.

This large study has provided some very important results, which will enable fertility specialists to reassure their patients about the long term health of their children