Study finds IVF children as healthy as naturally conceived peers

Brigid O’Connell, Herald Sun
April 16, 2019 5:58pm

Australian children conceived through IVF are as healthy as their naturally conceived peers in early adulthood, and are even excelling them in some areas of wellbeing, a landmark study has found.

Using questionnaires and a three-hour medical screening of each participant, they found no evidence of heart, growth, metabolic or respiratory problems.

But did find that the IVF cohort felt better about their finances, safety, environment and housing than the control group.

Blood pressure was also slightly lower in the ART-conceived men.

And while more IVF conceived adults reported suffering asthma as a child, there was no difference in the incidence in adulthood.

Lead author Professor Jane Halliday said until now little has been known about the long-term health of children born through the 40-year-old technologies, and the impact of the handling of eggs, sperm and embryos in the laboratory on increasing the risk of adult-onset health conditions.

The study involved researchers from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, University of Melbourne and the Royal Children’s Hospital, with the findings published in the prestigious journal Fertility and Sterility.

But given heart disease typically starts to appear later in life, the Melbourne team is hoping to continue following these adults over the long term to see whether health problems do appear later in IVF-conceived adults.

They have already started a study, looking at particularly focusing on young men born through the most common type of IVF — a fertilisation technique called ICSI or intracytoplasmic sperm injection — to see if infertility can be passed on.

Melbourne brothers Ash and Oliver Yap, aged 30 and 27, said their parents had long celebrated their IVF conception, and they were not surprised that ART-conceived adults like them had higher levels of wellbeing.

“Since we’ve been little, it was almost like mum’s bragging rights that she could conceive children through a new technology,” said Ash.

“We were brought up in a fortunate family. We were always well looked after, and we were given everything to make the best of who we are.”

“You’re the outcome of your genetic make-up, but also how you’re brought up and the environment in which you were raised.”

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