IVF and pediatric cancer


Is there a link? Many studies have shown no statistical increase in incidences of cancer in children born through IVF and those conceived spontaneously. A group of doctors from Sweden set out to provide conclusive data regarding the relationship of IVF to childhood cancer.

The doctors followed over 26,000 children born 1982-2005 cross referencing birth records and records from the Swedish Cancer Register from children born with and without IVF.

In fact, this first study of its kind did show a moderate increase in some types of cancers in children conceived by IVF. Factors like maternal age, smoking, subfertility, previous miscarriages, BMI or weight, and multiple births were considered and not found to significantly contribute to the occurrences of cancer. High birth weight, premature delivery, respiratory illness and low Apgar score were risk factors for cancer. The doctors discovered 53 cases of cancer in IVF children when they were statistically expecting to find 38. Types of cancer included hematologic cancer, eye or central nervous system tumors, and 12 with other solid cancers. There were a few cases of Langerhans histiocytosis.

Compared to women who spontaneously conceive, women who had IVF were older, smoked less, had fewer miscarriages, had a period of unwanted childlessness, more often were overweight and had an increased rate of multiple pregnancies. The doctors ruled out these characteristics as significantly increasing cancer risks.

Some neonatal characteristics were associated with some of the cancer cases. Two of the children in the study had Down syndrome. There is a strong association between Down syndrome and leukemia independent of IVF experience.

There have been some articles circulating on the internet strongly linking IVF and pediatric cancer. The risk is minimal, but it is there. As always talk to you doctor about your concerns and any steps you can take to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Source: Pediatrics.org


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