Monday, October 07, 2013

IVF babies 'are a third more likely to develop childhood cancer'

Ho hum!  Need for IVF sometimes springs from poor health.  Any surprise that some of the children of such mothers are in poor health too?

Children born as a result of IVF are a third more likely to get cancer, a major study found.

Scientists said those born after fertility treatments were 33 per cent more likely to have childhood cancer.

They were 65 per cent more likely to develop leukaemia and 88 per cent more likely to develop cancers of the brain and central nervous system.

The study suggests fertility treatment may change the way certain genes function when they are passed from parent to child in a process known as ‘genomic imprinting’.

These faults in genes are linked to childhood cancers, the Danish researchers said.

They warned these changes could be triggered by aspects of fertility treatment such as exposure to hormones, semen preparation, freezing embryos, growth conditions of embryos or delayed insemination.

But they could not rule out the chance that the increased risk was the result of parents’ infertility, not the treatment.

Earlier this year, British research on more than 100,000 children born after fertility treatment found they had no increased risk of cancer.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is among the most widely used fertility techniques, with around 18,000 IVF babies born in Britain each year.

An egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilised with sperm, then returned to the womb to grow.

The research, in the journal Fertility and Sterility, reviewed 25 studies from 12 developed countries, including the US, the UK, Denmark, France and Israel, from 1990 to 2010.

‘The results of the largest meta-analysis on this topic to date indicate an association between fertility treatment and cancer in offspring,’ wrote author Dr Marie Hargreave, of the Danish Cancer Society research centre, Copenhagen.

‘The etiology [origin] of childhood cancer is still largely unknown, but it has been hypothesized that fertility treatment may play a role.’

One theory is that anti-oestrogen drugs that stimulate ovulation are similar to diethylstilbestrol, a drug once given to pregnant women to stop complications, but later linked to childhood cancer.

The researchers stressed that the risk of cancer among children born after fertility treatment remains low.

They wrote: ‘Infertile couples may already have an increased number of epigenetic defects . . . which come to light through the treatment process.’

Most children in the studies were born after IVF but some couples used other techniques such as intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection or intrauterine insemination.

Dr Allan Pacey, the chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: ‘Although this paper reports an apparent increase in the incidence in childhood cancer, the association is small and it is still not possible to say whether it is a consequence of IVF or the underlying infertility of the parents.’

Cancer is the second biggest cause of death of children in developed countries. Around 1,600 children are diagnosed each year in Britain.

A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said: ‘A recent UK study found there to be no increased risk of cancer to children as a result of assisted reproduction treatment.’

Geeta Nargund is medical director at Create Health Clinics, which promotes ‘mild IVF’, with fewer fertility jabs and lower dosages. She said: ‘This is an interesting study which raises concerns about potential long-term effects of fertility treatment on children.’


Scientists find simple 'scratch' technique improves IVF treatment success

A simple 15-minute procedure costing less than £100 has been shown to nearly double the success rate of IVF treatment, a new study has disclosed.

The research, led by British scientists, has also shown for the first time that the technique increased the number of babies born as a result.

Gently scratching the lining of the womb in the month before IVF treatment was shown to increase in the clinical pregnancy rate of women undergoing IVF to 49 per cent, compared with the current average of 29 per cent.

The procedure - known as endometrial scratching - also increased the number of live births from the current average of 23 per cent to 42 per cent.

Dr Nick Raine-Fenning of the Nottingham University Research and Treatment Unit, who is collaborating with Brazilian scientists on the research, said: “This is the first well-designed trial conducted into endometrial scratching and the results are promising.  “Other trials have provided anecdotal evidence, but these have been limited and many questioned the validity of the technique.

“We are now carrying out a follow-up study in Nottingham to provide further guidance into the use of endometrial scratching and early results are encouraging.”

A spokesman added that despite widespread use of the scratching technique, which first came to prominence in 2003, the mechanism behind its success remains unknown.

The trial involved 158 women who had previously received unsuccessful courses of reproductive treatment, which costs an average of £4,500 per cycle.

Of the total number of patients 77 received the scratching priocedure between one and two weeks before core reproductive treatment began.

Of the 77, 39 women achieved pregnancy and 33 resulted in live births, compared with 23 live births in the control group.
The short procedure takes just 15 minutes in clinic and can be carried out by trained nurses using simple equipment already in use.

The procedure may add less than £100 to the cost of an IVF cycle.
Results of the latest research will be presented at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology World Congress in Sydney.


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