The health of the children born following an IVF treatment
After the birth of Louise Brown in Great Britain in 1978, the first child born from an IVF, more than one million children were born in the world in which their mother underwent reproductive procedures. One of the first questions that emerged about reproductive therapies was, and still is, the health and proper development of children born after such treatments.
In 2009, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the official authority that controls assisted breeding procedures in the UK and which is one of the world’s most valid, published official data on children’s health following IVF which demonstrates the absolute safety of these techniques.
According to this publication, the percentage of children born after normal arrest with congenital abnormalities in Europe is low at the rate of 2%. The percentage of congenital defects following IVF treatment, albeit slightly rising, is still low at 2.6%. Research so far can not state with absolute certainty that this increased risk is due to in vitro fertilization, as other factors may contribute, such as the underlying cause of infertility, the woman’s age, or other non specified factors.
Therefore, there should be no hesitation or fear for prospective parents who resort to IVF techniques in order to obtain a child.
The same applies to the ICSI microfertilization technique [link] that we apply in cases of male infertility. Again according to very recent studies, children born after microfertilization are no different than children born from natural conception. There are some references in the literature for a slight increase of the risk of urogenital tract disorders in infant boys (e.g. hypospadias). These defects are surgically corrected and seem to be due to hereditary reasons related to the father’s abnormal sperm and not by the technique itself. With regard to children’s cognitive development, studies show that there is absolutely no difference.