IVF babies have higher cancer risk, Israeli study says

Ben-Gurion U research shows pediatric cancer incidence rate greater among ‘test-tube kids’ than naturally conceived ones

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative photo of an in vitro fertilization lab. (CC BY-SA, Jayesh Amin, Wikimedia Commons)
Illustrative photo of an in vitro fertilization lab. (CC BY-SA, Jayesh Amin, Wikimedia Commons)

Babies born to mothers who underwent fertility treatments are at increased risk of developing various types of pediatric cancers and tumors, researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have found, recommending they have follow-up checks on their health.

According to the American Cancer Society, the most common pediatric cancers and tumors, or neoplasms, are leukemia, brain and spinal cord tumors, neuroblastomas, Wilms tumors, and lymphoma, including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin.

The BGU study, published in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, was a population-based analysis of babies born between 1991 and 2013 at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, Israel, with follow-up to age 18.

“In Israel, all fertility interventions, which include in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ovulation induction (OI), are fully covered by insurance, enabling citizens of all backgrounds access to these treatments,” says Prof. Eyal Sheiner, vice dean of the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS).

Of the 242,187 newborn infants studied, 237,863 (98.3 percent) were conceived spontaneously; 2,603 (1.1 percent) were conceived after in vitro fertilization, and 1,721 (0.7 percent) were conceived after ovulation induction treatments.

During the follow-up period of approximately 10.6 years, 1,498 neoplasms (0.6 percent) were diagnosed. The incidence rate for neoplasms was highest among children after IVF and somewhat lower for OI births as compared to that of naturally conceived children.

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

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