Vitality

Causes Of Cancer In Children: Babies Conceived Via IVF Have Higher Risk Of Developing Pediatric Cancers

Fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization have become a miracle for some parents who were unable to conceive from other methods, but research is also revealing some potential risks: a new study suggests that certain fertility treatments are associated with an increased risk for cancer in children. 

According to the research from Ben-Gurion University and Soroka University Medical Center in Israel, children conceived through IVF are at increased risk for certain malignancies. Of the 242,187 newborn infants in the study, 98.3 percent were conceived spontaneously; 1.1 percent were conceived following in vitro fertilization, and 0.7 percent were conceived after ovulation induction (OI) treatments. After a follow-up nearly 11 years later, 1,498 neoplasms, or new and abnormal tissue growths, were diagnosed. However, the incidence rate for neoplasms was highest among children after IVF, and somewhat lower for OI births when compared to rates for naturally conceived children.

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"The research concludes that the association between IVF and total pediatric neoplasms and malignancies is significant," study co-author Dr. Eyal Sheiner said in a statement. "With increasing numbers of offspring conceived after fertility treatments, it is important to follow up on their health."

cancer Fertility treatment may increase the risk of children growing a tumor. Photo Courtesy of Getty/: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE

According to the National Cancer Institute, a neoplasm is another term for a tumor, and describes an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. While not all tumors are cancerous, some may be. While the study did not specifically note whether or not the children’s tumors eventually become cancerous, the out-of-control cell growth associated with tumors does significantly increase cancer risk.

In addition to fertility treatments, past research has uncovered other clues into the causes of childhood cancers. For example, a study published from 2015 found that as many as 8.5 percent of children and adolescents with cancer were born with genes that increased this risk, Reuters reported. However, only 40 percent came from families with a known cancer risk, further deepening the question of where the genes came from and what caused them to be expressed.

Source: Wainstock T, Walfisch A, Shoham-Vardi I, et al. Fertility treatments and pediatric neoplasms of the offspring: results of a population-based cohort with a median follow-up of 10 years. AJOG . 2017

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