By James Tillman

July 26, 2010 (—Children conceived with IVF appear to have an elevated risk of cancer according to a large population-based study conducted in Sweden. 

Fifty-three cases of cancer were found among the 26,692 IVF-conceived children studied – a number that is significantly higher than the 38 that would be expected given the rate of cancer in the Swedish population.  This translates into a 42% increased risk of cancer.

IVF-conceived children were also 87% more likely than the general population to have received a diagnosis of cancer by the age of three.

Researchers speculated that the increased risk might be mediated through other factors associated with IVF treatments, such as higher rates of preterm births and neonatal asphyxia.

Of the 53 cases of cancer in children born after IVF, 18 had hematologic cancer, 17 had eye or central nervous system tumors, 12 had other solid cancers, and 6 had Langerhans cells histiocytosis.

The increased risk fell to 34% greater than the total population after excluding infants with Langerhans cells histiocytosis, which is not strictly a cancer but a cancer-like condition.

The over-all risk increase rose to 52%, however, after excluding children whose mothers were born outside of Sweden or whose fathers or mothers were non-Swedish.

Increased rates of over-all health problems have previously been found in IVF-conceived children.

They have also been found to be at greater risk for genetic brain disorders and birth defects.


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