Good News for Kids Born by IVF

In vitro fertilization, other infertility treatments not linked to developmental delays in children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) For couples struggling to conceive, here's some potentially comforting news about the safety of infertility treatments.

In spite of longstanding concerns that infertility treatments could affect embryos at a sensitive stage and cause lifelong disability, a new study found that children conceived with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other common infertility treatments were no more likely to have developmental delays by age 3 than children conceived naturally.

During IVF, eggs are collected from a woman's ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab.

"When we began our study, there was little research on the potential effects of conception via fertility treatments on U.S. children," said lead study author Edwina Yeung, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in a press release. "Our results provide reassurance to the thousands of couples who have relied on these treatments to establish their families."

For this study, Dr. Yeung and team used data from the Upstate KIDS study to look at more than 1,800 babies born to women who became pregnant after infertility treatment and more than 4,000 babies born to women who did not undergo such treatment. This study enrolled only babies born to women in New York between 2008 and 2010.

Four months after giving birth, the mothers used a survey to indicate what type of infertility treatment they received. Treatments included IVF, frozen embryo transfer, assisted hatching, ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination, among others.

The parents also used a survey to screen for developmental disabilities at several points throughout their children's first three years of life. This survey covered five main developmental areas: fine motor skills (grasping, touching, etc.), gross motor skills (crawling, running, etc.), communication, social skills and problem-solving.

Overall, the children conceived with fertility treatments scored similarly to the other children in these five areas. Because it is not always possible to diagnose developmental disability by age 3, however, researchers said they plan to test these children periodically until they reach age 8.

This study was published online Jan. 4 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
January 5, 2016
Last Updated:
January 6, 2016