IVF children at increased risk of neurological disorders

N.B. Please note that if you are outside North America the embargo date for this Lancet press material is 0001 hours UK time Friday 8th February 2002.

A Swedish study in this weeks issue of THE LANCET suggests that children born after in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) could be at an increased risk of developing neurological problems, especially cerebral palsy. The authors conclude that a reduction in this risk is possible if only one embryo is transferred during IVF, reducing the likelihood of twin pregnancies and low-birthweight children.

There are no population-based studies with sufficient follow-up on the risk of neurological disorders in children born after IVF. Bo Strmberg and colleagues compared the frequency of such problems in IVF-born children with those in children conceived naturally.

In a retrospective population-based study, the investigators compared development of neurological problems in 5680 children born after IVF with 11,360 matched controls. For 2060 twins born after IVF, a second set of 4120 control children (who were all twins) were studied. IVF children were around three times more likely to have cerebral palsy than children from the general population (IVF multiple-births and IVF singletons had increased relative risk profiles of 3.7 and 2.8, respectively). Suspected developmental delay was increased four-fold in children born after IVF. With regard to all neurological problems, there was no increased risk for IVF twins compared with twins in the general population. Increased maternal age was not a risk factor for neurological problems among IVF children.

Bo Strmberg comments: Our study suggests that children born after IVF have an increased risk of developing neurological problems, especially cerebral palsy. These risks are largely due to the high frequency of twin pregnancies, low birthweight, and prematurity among babies born after IVF. To limit these risks, we recommend that only one embryo sho

Contact: Richard Lane

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