New research has been published which suggest that children born from IVF have a higher chance of developing asthma.
New research has been published, suggesting that children who are born as a result of IVF and other fertility treatments have a slightly higher chance of developing asthma. But the findings have been qualified by the researchers, who said that the small sample size meant that parents shouldn’t be too worried.
After a joint study between the Universities of Oxford and Essex in England which was published in the journal Human Reproduction, experts found that five-year-old children were more likely to suffer from asthma and breathing difficulties than if they were conceived naturally. Over 13,000 UK children were studied during the course of the research and experts also found that a large percentage of the sufferers had to use medication to calm the condition – something that hints at more severe asthma developing in the future.
Dr Claire Carson, who chaired the research for the two Universities, said that 15% of the children had asthma at the age of 5, compared to 24% of the 104 who had been born through IVF and other assisted reproduction technologies (ARTs). Furthermore, children conceived using ARTs were 27% more likely to wheeze.
And although Dr Caron said that the statistics were “interesting” and did seem to suggest a clear link between the two, it was too soon to decide definitively whether it was as a result of fertility treatments, and they could well have been caused by genetic factors. However, the small sample size of the children and other factors involve suggest that parents needn’t be overly worried about the condition. Dr Carson also reassured parents when she spoke to the BBC.
She said: “Although we found an association, we cannot tell at this time if it is causal. Further research is needed to establish what might be causing the association and the underlying mechanism involved. For the majority of children, asthma is quite manageable. Assisted reproduction technologies such as IVF offer a chance to become a parent when there isn’t another option”.
The 13,000 children come from a study called The UK Millennium Cohort Study, and were all born between 2000 and 2002, and will be monitored regularly as they grow – allowing further research to be published in the future. The next study will be undertaken around 2013, when the children are 11.
Malayka Rahman, a spokesman from the charity Asthma UK, said that asthma is only rarely severe and the research around asthma and ARTs was generally not conclusive. She added:
“Although this study suggests that there might be an association between IVF treatment and asthma developing in children, the sample size is small.”
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