IVF Kids: No Higher Developmental Delay Risk
Other infertility treatments also don't seem to interfere with child development
By Amy Norton
MONDAY, Jan. 4, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Preschoolers who were conceived through fertility treatments don't seem to have any special risk of developmental delays, a new study suggests.
The researchers said the findings, published online Jan. 4 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, should be reassuring to the growing number of U.S. couples seeking help with infertility.
There have long been lingering concerns about the development of children conceived through infertility treatment, explained study author Edwina Yeung, a researcher at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
That's partly based on animal research, Yeung said, and partly because of conflicting findings from studies of children.
A few studies of children have suggested there might be developmental effects, at least with certain types of fertility treatment. But many others have found no such link, the researchers noted.
For the study, Yeung's team followed over 5,800 children born in New York state between 2008 and 2010. They included 1,830 children conceived through various forms of infertility treatment -- including fertility drugs and more extensive treatments such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Overall, children conceived with the help of fertility drugs were no more likely to show developmental delays at the age of 3 than their peers whose parents conceived naturally.
That was true whether the treatment involved intrauterine insemination or not, Yeung said. Insemination means that sperm are placed in the uterus during ovulation.
The study did find signs of slower development among children conceived through more complicated fertility treatments -- including IVF, intracytoplasmic sperm injection and other techniques that fall under the umbrella of "assisted reproductive technology," or ART.
However, Yeung said, that was explained by the "much higher rate of twinning" in the ART group -- 34 percent, versus 19 percent among children conceived naturally. Twins are often born prematurely and at low weights, which raises the risk of developmental problems, according to the March of Dimes.
There was no evidence that fertility treatment, itself, affected the children's development. Twins conceived by ART had no greater risk of delays than twins conceived naturally, the study found.