Monday, July 19, 2010

IVF children more likely to develop cancer(?)

Another stupid attack on IVF, making mountains out of molehills as usual. 53 out of 26,000 IVF children developed cancer -- or one fifth of one percent! That cannot even be called a molehill -- more like a pimple -- and certainly is no basis for any generalizations.

What I said about IVF just over 2 weeks ago applies here too.

Note also that the type of IVF procedure is not mentioned. There are a variety of methods and what might be true of one might not be true of all. Conceptions resulting from ICSI procedures at least should be studied separately

Children conceived through IVF treatment are 42 per cent more likely to develop cancer in their early years, the largest study of its kind has found.

Concerns have been raised that children born after fertility treatment are at greater risk of complications, congential malformations and infertility problems themselves but this is the first time a significant association with cancer has been found.

The problems are not thought to be linked to the procedure itself rather they are more likely to be a result of the infertility itself or complications that occur around birth such as prematurity and low birth weight which are linked to fertility treatment.

Swedish researchers used records of more than 26,000 children born after IVF treatment and linked them to registers of cancer diagnosis. They found 53 children developed cancer, ranging from a very young age, up to 19-years-old, against an expected number of 38. The team said this meant there was a 42 per cent increased risk of childhood cancer in these children.

The cancers included leukaemia, cancers of the eye and nervous system, solid tumours and six cases of a condition called Langerhans histiocytosis. There is debate over whether this condition is a real cancer or not but even when these cases were excluded the increased risk of cancer was still 34 per cent, the researchers said.

IVF-conceived children were 87 per cent more likely to have received a diagnosis of cancer by the age of three than the general population. After this age the risk of cancer in IVF children reduced.

The study found that seven of the 53 children with cancer also had other problems including malformations and Down’s Syndrome which are known to have a strong link to cancer. The findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

Lead author Bengt Källén, of the University of Lund in Sweden, wrote in the journal: “We found a moderately increased risk for cancer in children who were conceived by IVF.

“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.”


Needle free jab developed to beat injection phobia

Sounds hopeful

The fear of injections regularly ranks highly on lists of Britain's worst phobias. Now trypanaphobics can breathe a sigh of relief as scientists have developed a skin patch to administer vaccines without the need for a jab.

Researchers say it could pave the way for ‘mail-order’ inoculations, scientists have said. Instead of one large needle, hundreds of microscopic needles set into a patch dissolve into the skin painlessly. The new system could allow non-medically trained people or even patients themselves to administer vaccines, particularly in the Third World.

The details were released in the journal Nature Medicine.

Studies on mice have shown that the microneedles can deliver vaccine that it as effective as conventional methods.

Researchers from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, in America, are believed to be the first to evaluate whether vaccines delivered using these microneedle systems are as effective as ordinary ones.

Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, said: “In this study, we have shown that a dissolving microneedle patch can vaccinate against influenza at least as well, and probably better than, a traditional hypodermic needle.

“The dissolving microneedle patch could open up many new doors for immunisation programs by eliminating the need for trained personnel to carry out the vaccination. "This approach could make a significant impact because it could enable self-administration as well as simplify vaccination programs in schools and assisted living facilities."

Several other needleless methods have been developed to administer drugs, including gels, skin patches, tabs that dissolve under the tongue and powder jets that force medicine through the skin under pressure.

The skin is a particularly route of administration, the team from Emory University School of Medicine said, because it contains lots of cells that are needed to mount an immune response.

Richard Compans, professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory University School of Medicine, said: "The skin is a particularly attractive site for immunisation because it contains an abundance of the types of cells that are important in generating immune responses to vaccines."

The researchers used mice to test the microneedle patch, giving one group a flu vaccine with the new patch and another group the same vaccine using a traditional needle injected into muscle.

Three months later both groups were exposed to the flu virus and the mice which had been vaccinated using the patch appeared to have better protection.

Sean Sullivan, the study's lead author from Georgia Tech, said: “We envision people getting the patch in the mail or at a pharmacy and then self administering it at home. "Because the microneedles on the patch dissolve away into the skin, there would be no dangerous sharp needles left over."

The patch costs around the same to produce as conventional needle and syringe systems but could save money in large-scale immunisation programmes due to the reduced staffing needed to administer it.


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