Children conceived by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are 42 percent more likely to develop cancer in their early years, new research reveals.
A team of Swedish scientists arrived at the conclusion after analysing records of over 26,000 children born after IVF treatment and linking them to registers of cancer diagnosis.
The researchers found 53 children developed cancer, ranging from a very young age, up to 19-years-old, against an expected number of 38.
The cancers included leukaemia, cancers of the eye and nervous system, solid tumours and six cases of a condition called Langerhans histiocytosis. here is debate over whether this condition is a real cancer or not but even after these cases were excluded the increased risk of cancer was still 34 percent, according to the study group.
Compared with the general population, IVF-conceived children were 87 percent more likely to have received a diagnosis of cancer by the time they were three years old.
After this age the risk of cancer in IVF children reduced.
It was found that seven of the 53 children with cancer also had other problems including malformations and Down's Syndrome.
The findings appear in the journal Pediatrics.
"We found a moderately increased risk for cancer in children who were conceived by IVF," The Telegraph quoted lead author Bengt Kdllin, of the University of Lund in Sweden, as writing in the journal.
Kdllin added: "This is probably not attributable to the IVF procedure itself but could be an effect of confounding from unidentified characteristics of women who undergo IVF or could act via the widely known increased risks for neonatal complication.
"It should be stressed that the individual risk for a child who is born after IVF to develop childhood cancer is low. Additional studies on large populations are needed to permit analysis of such a rare outcome as cancer and notably of specific types."