Children born through IVF ‘twice as likely to get cancer’

    11 December 2019

    Children born as a result of IVF have a higher risk for certain types of cancer, according to new research by the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre in Cophenhagen.

    The study, which looked at the health records of more than a million Danish children, found that babies conceived through assisted reproduction involving frozen embryo transfer were more than twice as likely to develop childhood cancer, particularly leukemia and neuroblastoma, a type of brain cancer.

    The study’s leader, Marie Hargreave, said: “We did not find increased risks with other types of fertility treatments. It is important to stress the fact that the increased risk is very small for the individual as childhood cancer is very rare.”

    Analysis found the rate of childhood cancer among children born to women with no fertility issues was 17.5 per 100,000. During the study period 2217 were diagnosed with cancer, but those born through frozen eggs had a higher risk, increasing from around one in 480 children to one in 240, or 44.4 per 100,000.

    Dr. Alan B. Cooperman, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, commented: “Because the study looks only at an association it is not clear whether the finding is related to the procedure itself or the patients who needed the procedure. Beyond that, any time a rare event is studied in a large retrospective study, the statistical precision to make accurate conclusions is limited. Prospective parents can be reassured that in 12.2 million ‘person-years’ of follow-up, that childhood cancer was diagnosed in less than 0.01 per cent of children, regardless of whether or not IVF was used for conception.”