ART-conceived children not at increased risk for cancer
medwireNews: Children conceived using assisted reproductive technology (ART) do not have an increased cancer risk relative to either the general population or naturally conceived children of women with impaired fertility, shows a Dutch study with a long follow-up.
“This large study provides important results, enabling physicians to better inform couples considering ART about the long-term safety of ART for their children,” say Flora van Leeuwen, from The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, and fellow authors in Human Reproduction.
The analysis included 47,690 offspring of women with impaired fertility from the nationwide OMEGA cohort, some of whom initiated ART, that is, in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), or embryo transfer.
On the basis of questionnaires completed by the mothers and their medical records, the research team could ascertain that 24,269 children were conceived by ART, while 13,761 had a natural conception and 9660 were conceived either naturally or with the help of fertility drugs, but not by ART.
Over a median follow-up of 21 years, ART-conceived children were not at increased risk for cancer compared with the general population, at a nonsignificant standardized incidence ratio (SIR) of 1.11, or with the non-ART or naturally-conceived children of the OMEGA participants, with nonsignificant adjusted hazard ratio (HRs) of 1.10 and 1.00, respectively.
There was an increased, but not statistically significant, risk for cancer among children conceived by ICSI or from cryopreserved embryos, both relative to the general population (SIRs of 1.67 and 1.97, respectively) and to naturally conceived children of women with impaired fertility (adjusted HRs of 1.52 and 1.80, respectively).
But “[b]ecause the number of cancers in these groups were small, these findings may be due to chance and must be interpreted with caution,” point out van Leeuwen et al.
The continue: “As ever more children are born through ICSI and/or cryopreservation of embryos, long-term cancer risk should be investigated in cohorts comprising larger numbers of children born through [these methods].”
Analysis by tumor type showed an increased risk for lymphoblastic leukemia and melanoma among ART-conceived children versus those conceived naturally, with respective HRs of 2.44 and 1.86, but these associations were not statistically significant.
The researchers therefore recommend pooling data from international studies “to provide sufficient power to study risk of specific cancer sites.”
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