Researchers find larger-than-expected number of cancer cases in children conceived with IVF

-- Eric Metcalf

Monday, July 19, 2010 (Last Updated: 07/20/2010)

MONDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Children conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) may have a moderately increased risk of cancer, according to research published online July 19 in Pediatrics.

Bengt Källén, M.D., of the University of Lund in Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from 26,692 children who were born following IVF from 1982 to 2005. They tracked cases using the Swedish Cancer Register and compared the number of children with cancer who were conceived by IVF with children not conceived through IVF.

The researchers found 53 cases of cancer in the children conceived with IVF compared to an expected 38 cases. Eighteen of the 53 cases had hematologic cancer, 17 had eye or central nervous system tumors, and 12 had other solid cancers. The researchers also found six cases of Langerhans histiocytosis compared to one expected case. The total cancer risk estimate was found to be 1.42. A variety of maternal factors -- including age, parity, smoking, and previous miscarriages -- didn't significantly affect offspring's cancer risk.

"We found a moderately increased risk for cancer in children who were conceived by IVF. This is probably not attributable to the IVF procedure itself but could be an effect of confounding from unidentified characteristics of women who undergo IVF or could act via the widely known increased risks for neonatal complication. It should be stressed that the individual risk for a child who is born after IVF to develop childhood cancer is low," the authors conclude.

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Specialties Hematology & Oncology

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