Children conceived through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be at an increased risk of cancer, according to the largest study of its kind.
In the past three decades, IVF has gone from an experimental procedure to being more common. Pregnancies enabled by IVF frequently have more difficulties, with children born earlier and smaller even among singleton births.
Scientists from the University of Minnesota in the US used data of 275,686 IVF children and 2,266,847 naturally conceived children.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that the overall cancer rate per 1,000,000 children of IVF children was about 17 per cent higher than for non-IVF children. However, the rates of other specific cancers did not differ between the two groups, and no associations of childhood cancer with specific IVF treatment techniques.
"The most important takeaway from our research is that most childhood cancers are not more frequent in children conceived by IVF," said Logan Spector, a professor at University of Minnesota.
"There may be an increased risk of one class of cancers in children; however, due to the nature of our study, we could not distinguish between IVF itself versus the parents' underlying infertility," Spector said.