IVF May Be Linked to Rare Eye Tumor
Dutch Study Shows Cluster of Retinoblastoma Cases
None of the five children with retinoblastoma identified by the researchers had a family history of the disease, and all of the children were successfully treated.
Moll and colleagues agree that larger studies are needed to confirm the association between IVF and retinoblastoma and to explore potential causes.
"Whether treatment with ovulation-inducing drugs increases the risk of childhood cancer is an important matter, especially with the rising number of women undergoing treatment for subfertility," the researchers wrote. "Future investigators should consider the number of IVF treatments, other fertility drugs given before IVF, and the possibility that serious disorders in children conceived by IVF are diagnosed earlier than those in other children who do not have such close medical surveillance."
In a news release issued Friday, an association representing more than 4,000 European fertility specialists urged caution in interpreting the Dutch study. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology release also cited the larger studies showing no increased occurrence of cancer among almost 20,000 IVF children.
Society chairman Hans Evers says the Dutch study could easily have overestimated the risk because it was so small.
"Of course, this does not exclude a connection between assisted reproduction techniques and childhood cancer, and everyone involved in fertility treatment agrees that it is extremely important to follow these children right through their childhood," Hans Evers says in the news release. "But the present report should be treated cautiously for now."
BenEzra agrees that this study may have overestimated the risks of retinoblastoma in this population.