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IVF not linked to development problems risk

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IVF treatment does not increase the risk of developmental problems during early infancy, according to Dutch research.

Researchers from the University of Groningen said it had previously been suggested that babies born via IVF would be at greater risk of cerebral palsy and other neuro-developmental disorders. However, they have found that it may be sub-fertility itself, rather than IVF, that is the key risk factor.

They assessed spontaneous movements, known as general movements, in 125 infants conceived following IVF at three months of age. They compared this directly with a control group of 90 babies born naturally to sub-fertile couples, and also further data from 450 children in the general population.

The study found quality of movement was similar between the control group and the IVF group, regardless of whether conventional therapy or a modified natural cycle was used. But they found both groups faired slightly worse than the general population.

‘Mildly abnormal general movements occurred more frequently in the children born to sub-fertile parents than in the general population, and this suggests that factors relating to sub-fertility rather than to IVF procedures come into play,’ said lead author Dr Karin Middelburg at a conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction in Spain this week. ‘This is an intriguing finding that deserves further investigation.’

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