A study found no developmental differences in children conceived with assisted reproductive technology such as IVF

An image to illustrate IVF, an assisted reproductive technology
© iStock/PhonlamaiPhoto

A study has found that children conceived with assisted reproductive technology had no developmental differences.

Some children in the study were conceived with assisted reproductive technology such as IVF, IUI or infertility medication. The parents of these children reported that the treatment had no impact on childhood development, as they recorded when their children met developmental milestones.

Assisted reproductive technology

According to the CDC, one in eight couples will experience difficulty getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Last year, the number of babies created using IVF was over eight million globally.

The study

The study was a collaboration between Fertility Centers of Illinois and Rush University Medical Center. It asked parents of children conceived spontaneously, and also through assisted reproductive technology to report their children’s developmental milestones between birth and five years of age in the Ovia Parenting app.

The study participants were based in the U.S. and of 1,881 who completed the survey:

  • 229 (12.2 percent) used ART;
  • 1,652 (87.8 percent) conceived spontaneously;
  • ART methods included infertility medication (91), intrauterine insemination (89), in vitro fertilization (78); and
  • 28 respondents reported more than one method.

The study found that both groups reported the achievement of developmental milestones in a similar timeline. There was a significant difference at the age of 12 months, where parents with children conceived through assistive reproductive technology were more likely to report all the milestones had been met, compared to parents with spontaneously conceived children.

Parental worries about child development

Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, study author and reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois, said: “Parents spend a lot of time with their children and know their behavior better than anyone, which is why it is so important to analyse development from their perspective. Many patients don’t pursue fertility treatment due to a fear their child will not be ‘normal’ as a result. This study helps to lay this fear to rest.”

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