IVF tots are more likely to suffer childhood cancer than kids conceived naturally, a major study reveals.
It shows test tube babies were 17 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with the disease in their first decade.
Getty – Contributor A study has claimed that children conceived through IVF may be more likely to suffer from cancer
U.S. experts say the findings are mainly driven by increased risk of embryonal cancers – tumours that start from the foetal cells – especially liver cancers.
But scientists say it is unclear whether the IVF or the parents underlying infertility is to blame.
The team from the University of Minnesota compared 2.27million natural births with 276,000 tots born using fertility treatment.
Writing in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, they concluded: “This study found a small association of IVF with overall cancers of early childhood.”
More than 6.5million babies have been born worldwide using the technique.
Professor Alastair Sutcliffe, Professor of General Paediatrics, University College London, said animals studies suggest the IVF process may affect genes.
He said: “The boon of fertility by IVF is a great thing for some couples and use year on year is rising – with 1.7 per cent of births in the USA, 2.2 per cent in the UK, 5 per cent in France.
“Consistent with work performed in the UK involving, this excellent study…likewise suggested that certain tumours were of higher risk after IVF conception, namely the exceptionally rare hepatoblastoma.
“It is indeed plausible that this slight increase in hepatoblastoma is an effect of IVF process rather than the genetic nature of sub fertility.”
Around one in six couples in the UK struggle to conceive naturally.
After two years of trying, couples should be eligible for fertility treatment on the NHS.
More than two per cent of babies in Britain are conceived annually through IVF – with around 20,000 tots born in 2016 as a result of the technique.
Dr Jane Stewart, Chair, British Fertility Society said: “This study suggests that following up on the health of IVF babies over time is a useful exercise. It does not, however, suggest that IVF causes these cancers.
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“The researchers were not able to consider other factors that might lead to childhood cancers in this group.
“As with other similar studies, an association between IVF and cancer is found but it is impossible to say what the cause is.
“We still need to know whether it is the treatment itself or the underlying infertility that accounts for this difference.”
Getty – Contributor The study found that children conceived through IVF may have an increased risk of tumours that start from the foetal cells, especially liver cancers
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