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IVF poses no child cancer threat

Wednesday July 10th, 2013

Children born through fertility treatment do not face any increased cancer risk, according to a major study reported today.

The researchers looked at figures on all 106,381 children born after assisted conception in the UK from 1992 to 2008 supplied by the UK's Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority. This was linked to the UK's National Registry of Childhood Tumours.

Rates of cancer among children born after assisted conception were compared with the general population. There was no overall increased risk of cancer in children born after assisted conception. This group developed 108 cases of cancer, compared with the 109.7 cases that would have been expected in the general population.

Researcher Dr Carrie Williams of the Institute of Child Health, University College London, UK, says: "This is reassuring news for couples considering assisted conception, their subsequent children, fertility specialists and for the wider public health."

Although some rare cancers were diagnosed more often in the assisted conception group, the numbers were so small that it could have occurred by chance. The study was presented yesterday (9 July) at the meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in London, UK.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Alastair Sutcliffe, added: "We are happy to report that in the country where IVF was first successfully applied there is no convincing evidence that ART (assisted reproductive technology) children are at any greater risk of cancer than those naturally conceived."

The findings were welcomed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. A spokeswoman said it was "delighted".

A further study presented at the meeting suggests that women who have multiple babies after IVF may at a raised risk of breast cancer. It is unclear whether IVF may directly raise the cancer risk, or whether women who have a higher implantation rate may also have a predisposition to breast cancer.

Williams, C. et al. Cancer risk in children born after assisted conception. Presented on Tuesday 9 July at the ESHRE annual meeting in London, UK.

Groeneveld, E. et al. Increased breast cancer risk after multiple implantation in IVF: a cohort study. Presented on Tuesday 9 July at the ESHRE annual meeting in London, UK.

Tags: Cancer | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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