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Family Update, Online!

Volume 04  Issue 05 4 February 2003
Topic: Test Tube Troubles

Family Fact: A Dutch Study

Family Quote: An English Study

Family Research Abstract: More Test Tube Troubles

Family Fact of the Week: A Dutch Study TOP of PAGE

"Researchers in the Netherlands have found indications of an increased risk of up to seven times of eye cancer among children conceived by IVF.

...Retinoblastoma, a malignant tumour in the retina, occurs in only about one in 17,000 births in western countries.

However Dutch investigators led by Dr Annette Moll, from VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, diagnosed the disease in five IVF children born within 15 months of each other.  This prompted the team to compare these cases with the expected incidence of retinoblastoma in the normal population.  The researchers estimated that children conceived by IVF could be between five and seven times more likely than non-IVF children to develop retinoblastoma.

Between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent of Dutch babies are born with the help of IVF, which is used to treat 3,000 women each year."

(Source: "IVF cancer link," ITV Network, 24 January 2003; http://www.itv.com/news/863857.html.)

Family Quote of the Week: An English Study TOP of PAGE

"Scientists called for an investigation into the safety of artificial fertility techniques last night, after a study showed that test-tube babies were more likely to be born with a rare genetic disorder than children conceived naturally.

A team of British researchers found that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) babies were at greater than average risk of Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome - a condition that can cause birth defects and childhood cancer. Although the risks are small, the findings raise concerns about a technique used to create 68,000 children since 1978."

(Source: David Derbyshire, "IVF safety fears over link to birth defects," The Daily Telegraph (London), 16 January 2003; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F01%2F16%2Fnivf16.xml.)

For More Information TOP of PAGE

The Howard Center and The World Congress of Families stock a number of pro-family books, including Guaranteeing the Good Life: Medicine and the Return of Eugenics, part of the Encounter Series, edited by Richard John Neuhaus. Please visit:

    The Howard Center Bookstore   

 Call: 1-815-964-5819    USA: 1-800-461-3113    Fax: 1-815-965-1826    Contact: Bookstore 

934 North Main Street Rockford, Illinois 61103

Family Research Abstract of the Week: A Swedish Study: More Test Tube Troubles TOP of PAGE

"Almost 50,000 children are now born worldwide every year after IVF [in vitro fertilization], yet the effects of IVF on long-term health of infants are unknown," state the authors of a Swedish study of the neurological effects of in vitro fertilization published in The Lancet.  

Noting some of the known short-term negative consequences of IVF, the researchers continue: "Numerous studies have dealt with the short-term outcome of IVF--i.e., number of pregnancies achieved, multiple pregnancies, infants born, infant mortality, and different malformations.  Thus, rates of prematurity, low birthweight, and the children's need for neonatal intensive care have been reported.  However, studies on the long-term outcome, with focus on neurological sequelae of children born after IVF are rare."

As a result, medical professionals in Sweden set forth to conduct a study including the cooperation of the Swedish Paediatric Association, the Swedish Society for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and the National Board of Health and Welfare, ultimately collecting data on all children born between 1982, when the first Swedish child born as a result of IVF was delivered, and December 31, 1995: "4353 women had 5680 infants (3228 singletons, 2060 twins, 367 triplets, and 25 quadruplets) after IVF between 1982 and Dec 31, 1995."  Today, children conceived via IVF constitute 2 percent of all infants born in Sweden.

The Swedish researchers found that, in general, children born as a result of in vitro fertilization were almost twice more likely to need neurological therapy than naturally conceived children (odds ratio 1.7, 95% CI 1.3-2.2).

In particular, the most common neurological diagnosis was cerebral palsy, for which, children conceived using IVF were 3.7 times more likely than naturally conceived children to have cerebral palsy, (95% CI 2.0-6.6).  Even for singletons, children born subsequent to IVF were almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy (odds ratio 2.8, 95% CI 1.3-5.8).  The researchers add: "Although low birthweight, low gestational age, and male sex were strong risk factors, IVF independently contributed to risk of development of cerebral palsy."

The risk for suspected developmental delay, the second most common neurological diagnosis, "was increased four-fold (1.9-8.3) in children born after IVF," compared to naturally conceived controls.  Furthermore, "When singletons were studied separately, this risk was reduced, but it was still double that seen in controls," (odds ratio 2.0, 95% CI 0.7-5.4).

While the authors point out that, "[w]ith respect to congenital malformations, mental retardation, chromosomal aberrations, and behavioural disorders, we saw no differences between children born after IVF and those born after a natural conception," the prevalence and seriousness of the neurological problems that are linked to IVF-cerebral palsy and developmental delay, among others-cast a dark pall over the continuing practice of in vitro fertilization.

(Source: B. Strömberg, G. Dahlquist, A. Ericson, O Finnström, M. Köster, and K. Stjernqvist, "Neurological Sequelae in Children Born after In Vitro Fertilisation: A Population-Based Study," The Lancet, vol. 359, no. 9305 [February 2002], 461-465; http://www.thelancet.com/journal/vol359/iss9305/full/ llan.359.9305.original_research.19381.1.


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