A frequently asked question in social media is whether children born through in vitro fertilisation have a higher risk of suffering medical problems than those conceived naturally.
A major systematic review that included 38 studies (Fertility and Sterility 13; 707-719, 2015) has now addressed this issue. It found that children conceived using in vitro fertilisation techniques have a higher risk of suffering unspecified infectious and parasitic diseases, asthma, genitourinary diseases, epilepsy or convulsions, and longer hospitalisations.
Authors’ conclusions regarding risks in children conceived by in vitro fertilisation
The study results as regards mortality, cancer, pneumonia, allergies, and respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases were contradictory.
When only the 13 best quality studies were considered, the results were similar to those found in the general review.
The authors therefore concluded that “Children conceived by assisted reproductive technology may be at increased risk of somatic morbidity in childhood compared with spontaneously conceived children, although some inconsistency exists between study results”.