No link between IVF-assisted conception and school-age childhood development outcomes, study says


Researchers say the study provides important reassurance for clinicians and families.

A comprehensive study of more than 400,000 children — with more than 11,000 conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) — found no link between IVF conception and adverse developmental outcomes for school-aged children.

Published today in PLOS medicinethe study included collaboration between the three major IVF departments in Victoria – Melbourne IVF, Monash IVF and City Fertility Centre, and included data on more than 400,000 children born between 2005 and 2013, of whom 11,059 were conceived via IVF.

Led by Dr Amber Kennedy and Dr Anthea Lindquist, the study assessed children’s developmental and educational outcomes using the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) and the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).

Dr. Kennedy said: “We found no difference in performance across the five domains of the AEDC, nor in NAPLAN scores, between children born after IVF-assisted conception and those conceived unassisted.

“Some worrying evidence has previously suggested that children conceived through IVF may have poorer school results compared to their spontaneously conceived peers. However, our extensive analysis of this huge dataset has shown that this is not the case,” said Dr. Kennedy.

“Our findings will provide important reassurance to clinicians and to current and future parents of children conceived through IVF.”

Conception through IVF is common and on the rise, with over eight million babies born using IVF worldwide. Five percent of children in Australia are now conceived through IVF.

The AEDC is conducted every three years and assesses children in their first grade (ages 4-6) across five developmental domains. NAPLAN is conducted annually and assesses educational outcomes at different school ages. Grade 3 NAPLAN results were analyzed for this study.

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