Study: Fertility treatments increase risk of cancer in babies

NEW YORK — Treatments such as in vitro fertilization and ovulation induction have helped countless women struggling with pregnancy to reach their dreams of having children. But a new study now finds that fertility treatments also pose an increased risk of pediatric cancers in babies.

Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev examined a cohort analysis of about 242,000 babies born between 1991 and 2013 at Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva, Israel, with follow-up to age 18. Just under two percent of those babies were conceived in mothers who underwent fertility treatments — 1.1 percent from IVF, and 0.7 percent from OI.

Mother holding newborn baby
A new study finds that babies born from mothers who underwent fertility treatments have a higher risk of suffering from pediatric cancers.

The team determined that neoplasms, or tumors, either benign or cancerous, were found in 0.6 percent of all the newborns. Growths were found to be more frequent among children who were conceived with help from IVF and OI, compared to newborns who were conceived naturally. Babies born from mothers who underwent IVF had a slightly higher risk than those born from OI.

“The research concludes that the association between IVF and total pediatric neoplasms and malignancies is significant,” says Dr. Eyal Sheiner, in a university news release. “With increasing numbers of offspring conceived after fertility treatments, it is important to follow up on their health.”

In analyzing the data, researchers controlled for health conditions such as gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders, preterm birth, and maternal age.

According to the American Cancer Society, the most common childhood cancers are:

  • Leukemia
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Wilms tumor
  • Lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin)
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma)

The study was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.


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