Article last published/updated 01/06/2005
A study conducted by Kathy Hudson, PhD., who is the director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at John Hopkins University, reviewed the available medical literature (169 studies) on children conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The results are generally reassuring. In vitro fertilization (IVF) babies do not have higher rates of cancer, malformations, psychological or developmental delays.
Singleton in vitro fertilization (IVF) babies ARE at increased risk for premature birth, low birth rate and death in the first few weeks of life.
Twin in vitro fertilization (IVF) babies are NOT at any higher risk for these problems than naturally conceived twins. I should mention that twins are at higher risk for these complications compared to singletons and twins are more likely to occur as a result of multiple embryo transfer but in vitro fertilization (IVF) itself does not appear to increase the risk.
There were two rare genetic disorders, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and Angelman’s syndrome that the study made a special comment about. In the case of these two problems, the study found evidence that was “suggestive but not sufficient” to indicate that in vitro fertilization (IVF) may increase the risks of these problems.
The problem is that these syndromes are both very rare to start with. That makes it very difficult to determine then whether in vitro fertilization (IVF) has any adverse effect. Further study is needed in a much larger study to determine whether there is a risk.
There has been a lot of information in the media about the possible risks to the babies born through in vitro fertilization (IVF). This study, which is the largest study of its kind, I think is very reassuring.
There has been some noise in the field about establishing an in vitro fertilization (IVF) registry for children born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) I think it is probably a good idea and may be the only way to answer some of the questions we have about in vitro fertilization (IVF). Opponents say that it violates the privacy of the children in the registry and places a “stigma” on them. I can’t argue that but still feel that benefits outweigh the disadvantages.