Children conceived using assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF, grow to be as healthy and smart as those conceived normally, a new study shows.
A new study comparing adult’s born through reproductive technologies, such as IVF, with non-ART adults found only minor differences between the groups.
ART babies are at increased risk of preterm birth, low birth weight and being small for gestational age. The study’s authors wanted to check whether this led to poorer physical health as they developed.
While the research found the ART group were twice as likely to be admitted to hospital in the first 18 years of life, it was not for serious illness.
“There were increased frequencies of dental extractions, tonsillectomies, hernia repairs and testicular erosion,” said the Murdoch Children’s Institute study.
However, the authors explain the discrepancy as “increased parental vigilance associated with perceived vulnerability in a much-wanted baby”.
The ART adults had an increased risk of asthma and hay fever, were slightly more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome and lactose intolerance, says the research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility on Thursday.
However, the study concludes “we found little evidence of significant health disparities”.
A significant increase in attention hyperactivity disorder in ART offspring disappeared when the study accounted for the significance of male gender in the study.
There was no evidence of any difference in autism, speech or learning difficulties or in sexual maturation between the two groups.
Around 80 per cent of both groups completed Year 12 and there was no significant difference in their tertiary entrance scores.
By the time they reached their mid-to-late twenties 48 per cent of ART offspring had completed tertiary education compared to 41 per cent in the non-ART group.
“Most have grown into healthy young adults, with a quality of life and educational achievements similar to their non-ART conceived peers,” the study concludes.
Candice Reed, the first child conceived using ART in Australia, was born in 1980 and many of the children born using this method are now adults.
This study tracked 656 Victorian mothers who used ART and their 547 young adult offspring aged between 18 and 29 years.
It compared their outcomes to reports from 868 mothers and their 549 young adult offspring who were conceived without ART.
Around 3.8 per cent of Australian mothers use ART to help them conceive and every year over 30,000 babies conceived in this way are born.
More than 4.3 million children around the world have been conceived using the technology.