Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Children Conceived by In Vitro Fertilization Have Nearly Twice as Many Health Problems


( - A recent British study shows that children conceived by IVF have increased health problems and spend almost double the time in hospital than naturally conceived children, the Daily Mail reports.

The 7-year follow-up study, done in conjunction with Finnish studies, compared the hospital costs of IVF-conceived children to naturally conceived children. It examined 303 IVF-conceived children as well as 567 naturally-conceived children, all of whom were born between the years 1990 and 1995. Prior studies had reviewed the pregnancies of these children, their medical history and neo-natal health as well as the case notes of their hospitalization.

Published in the June 21, 2007 issue of Human Reproduction, the study showed that on average, a child conceived through IVF was in hospital significantly more times (1.76 vs. 1.07 times) than a naturally conceived child.

Dr. Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, professor at Imperial College London and one of the lead researchers behind the report, told, "What we showed was that actually there were certain disease groups which were more common among those born after IVF." She added that this included "certain infections, respiratory disease, and inflammatory disease," and noted that there are some neurological disorders that are slightly more common as well.

The report also notes that low birth weight and pre-term birth have been linked to IVF, but these results may be influenced by the multiple births often resulting from IVF. Nevertheless, single IVF children were also sicker than naturally conceived children and spent more time in the hospital. During the 7-year period, 61% of the singleton IVF children were hospitalized versus 46% of the naturally conceived singletons.

Jarvelin told that researchers don't know the reasons for the increased amount of certain diseases among IVF children. Most of the children born through IVF, however, are still healthy children, she said, "But we have to be more cautious and parents should be carefully informed that there might be some dangers that we might not know."

There are dangers involved in the multiple implantations of embryos involved in IVF, but this is not recommended anymore, said Jarvelin, because the fetuses are at higher risk.

The IVF mother is also at higher risk, not only from multiple implantations, but from other clinical problems such as blood toxemia. There is an additional, very rare condition seen among IVF women called Ovum Stimulation Syndrome, Jarvelin stated, that is caused by the medication that is used to stimulate ovaries during the IVF process. She stated that it can be "quite dangerous" for the woman.

"What this research really means," she concluded, "is that we need studies following these children…It shows that we need follow-up and long-term studies to see whether these people are really more healthy than naturally conceived children."

These newest findings are in accordance with past studies that have indicated that children who are conceived through IVF have a higher risk of deformity and over-all health problems. These problems include cerebral palsy, higher mortality rates and "ambiguous genitalia".

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