20 February 2014

IVF children as healthy as their spontaneously conceived peers: Breakthrough study

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Melbourne IVF

The world’s largest study into the effects of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) has found adults conceived through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) have grown up as healthy individuals comparing well to those conceived spontaneously.

Melbourne IVF Director, Associate Professor John McBain, AO was responsible for initiating the milestone research and contacted many of the original IVF patients to take part in the study.

“I’m proud to be part of such a significant achievement as Melbourne was an epicentre for IVF in the 1980s facilitating this large cohort of patients and IVF-conceived children to be involved in a study of this kind” he said.

Lead author Professor Jane Halliday said the study, published today in the journal Fertility and Sterility, fills an important gap in knowledge about the long term health outcomes of children conceived via the use of IVF and ART.

“Our results indicate that the perceived physical, mental health, social and environmental quality of life reported by the 547 ART-conceived young adults is very similar to that of their non-ART conceived peers” Prof Halliday said.

The research involved 656 mothers who used ART providing self-report about their 705 IVF-conceived children. The 547 participating IVF-conceived adults aged 18-28 years were surveyed about their perceived quality of life, BMI and educational development.

Mothers reported a higher rate of hospitalisation, as well as a higher rate of asthma and hay fever in IVF-conceived children. Increased hospitalisations, including in the secondary school years, has not been examined in other studies to date and the reasons for hospitalisation varied. The association between ART and asthma has been found in other studies.

“These results can reassure people worldwide considering IVF that there are no apparent substantial negative long-term health and wellbeing effects on children” Associate Prof McBain said.

Researchers will be conducting further clinical studies on the group of adults to assess their fertility and further evaluate their health status to determine if there are any long-term medical effects of IVF.

Melbourne IVF and researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne IVF, Monash IVF, University of Melbourne and Monash University were involved in the study.

Read more about the research in Associate Professor McBain's blog