Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

IVF Increases the Risk of Mental Retardation

A Swedish study has found that IVF was associated with a small risk of mental retardation.

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“This study provides further strong broad evidence that babies born after IVF are healthy. IVF treatment was not associated with autistic disorder in the offspring but was associated with a small but statistically significantly increased risk of mental retardation. This, however, disappeared when the analysis was restricted to singletons (single births).

The two endpoints of autism and mental retardation were chosen because of their major adverse effects on children’s development, but each is relatively uncommon. Much more common are neurodevelopmental trajectories that result in poor school achievement. Several large studies in a number of countries have shown that prematurity is a major determinant of poor school achievement.

In the Swedish IVF cohort, the rates of prematurity were 2–4 times greater than in the spontaneously conceived group. This is substantially attributable to the fact that multiple birth was 8–14 times higher in the IVF group. The rates of multiple birth and prematurity are falling as IVF technology advances.

The paper has established that the two major adverse neuro­developmental outcomes measured are either not increased or, at worst, only very slightly increased in children born through IVF. The question of whether IVF contributes to other more common but more subtle adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes remains unanswered.”...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.