IVF Babies Have a Higher Risk for Blood Cancer
A new study says kids conceived through in vitro can have a slightly increased risk of developing blood cancer.
If parents are using in vitro fertilization did not have enough to worry about, a new study recommends kids conceived through IVF could have a slightly increased risk of developing blood cancer.
Researchers studied more than 1600000 babies in Norway, about 25,800 of whom were conceived through different assisted reproductive technology procedures. They also found that kids born via IVF had a 67% increased risk of leukemia and a more than tripled risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma compared to kids conceived naturally.
When that number certainly sounds scary, lead author Dr. Marte Myhre Reigstad says parents should not go into panic mode, as the risk of childhood cancer is still very small. “For example, in Norway, the risk of being diagnosed with leukemia within the first ten years of life is 0.5 in thousand,” she said. “A risk increase of such magnitude as found in our study could amount to a risk of 0.8 in thousand. So for kids conceived by assisted reproductive technology, there’s still only a very small opportunity of developing cancer.”
Susan Amirian, an assistant professor with the Baylor College of Medicine’s Duncan Cancer Center in Houston, called the results “borderline statistically significant,” as only seventeen cases of leukemia and 3 cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma were reported among the IVF children in the sample.
“We need to be extra cautious interpreting that number,” she said. “And we need a lot more studies which confirm that association before we may say there is a true relationship there.” She added that there’re a number of other possible reasons why IVF children could be at higher risk for some cancers, including the fact that moms who use IVF to conceive often do so later in life. Parental genetics could also play a factor, she said, because whatever contributed to the parents’ infertility could also increase their kids’ cancer risk.
Still, Reigstad does not think the finding would dissuade couples from being treated with IVF. “But medical researchers and also care providers should keep these findings in mind,” she added. “And we should keep observing these kids as they grow older.”