IVF has been around for more than 40 years, creating more than five million people worldwide. Because IVF involves mixing eggs and sperm and making embryos in the lab, questions have been raised about whether it might affect the long-term health of people born after IVF.
So, it is welcome news that the world’s largest study of adults born after IVF shows they are as healthy as their same-aged peers. The research team was led by Professor Jane Halliday at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne and included researchers from VARTA.
Almost 300 adults aged 22 to 35 took part in the study, including 193 who were born after IVF and 86 who were born after spontaneous conception. Participants had a thorough medical examination which took several hours and included assessments of their heart, lung and metabolic health. Participants also completed a questionnaire about their health which included a quality-of-life measure with questions about how they viewed their physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and environment.
The medical examination showed no differences between the two groups on any of the measures. Although the people in the IVF group were more likely to report that they had suffered from asthma than those in the non-IVF group, their lung function tests were the same.
In terms of educational achievements, employment status, height, weight, relationship status, and smoking and drinking habits, there were no differences between the groups. However, the IVF group had higher scores on the quality-of-life measure particularly in the social relationship and environment areas. The social relationships area represents personal relationships, sexual activity, and social support and the environment area represents financial situation, home environment, perceived safety, and access to health care and transport.
The findings are reassuring for people born after IVF, their parents, and people who might use IVF in future.
Halliday J, Lewis S, Kennedy J, et al. Health of adults aged 22 to 35 years conceived by assisted reproductive technology. Fertility and Sterility. 2019.