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Ovary stimulants linked to childhood leukaemia

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Children that have been conceived with the help of certain fertility drugs are more likely to develop leukaemia, according to research.

French scientists found that ovary-stimulating drugs made youngsters 2.6 times more likely to contract acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), which is the most common type of childhood leukaemia.

Meanwhile, the risks of developing the rarer form of the disease, acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), are also 2.3 times higher.

Children conceived naturally after more than a year of their parents trying to get pregnant had a 50% greater-than-normal chance of suffering ALL.

The study indicated that there are no increased risks of the disease associated with either artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

These results are the first to demonstrate a specific relationship between fertility drugs and childhood leukaemia but the researchers are so far unable to fully explain their findings.

Study leader Dr Jeremie Rudant, from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at the French research institute INSERM in Villejuif, Paris, presented the findings at the Childhood Cancer 2012 conference in London, which was hosted by Children with Cancer UK.

“More research is now needed to investigate more closely the link between specific types of fertility drugs and what role the underlying causes of infertility may play in the potential development of childhood leukaemia,” he said.

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