Study shows IVF-conceived children are at higher mortality risk during first weeks of birth

Based on a latest study published by a team of researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, children conceived with reproductive techniques such as through in vitro fertilization (IVF) are at a greater mortality risk during the first few weeks of life in comparison to children conceived naturally.

Owning to the findings of the study, the increased risk is related to a higher degree of premature births in IVF children and thus underline the risk of infant mortality which is less for both groups. Beyond one year of age, the risk of mortality is similar for all children, regardless of the conception method.

“It is important to note that even if we on a group level can see a somewhat increased risk of infant mortality after IVF, the absolute risk for each individual is still very small,” explained Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, associate professor at the Department of Oncology and Pathology at Karolinska Institutet and the corresponding author. “It is also reassuring to know that there is no increased risk of mortality in this group of children beyond the first year of life.”

For the study, the team selected singleton children and compared mortality in children conceived through different types of assisted reproductive techniques and children conceived naturally. The data was analyzed over a period of 30 years on 2.8 million children born in Sweden.

43,500 children were the result of assisted reproduction, whereas  7 236 children died before 1 year of age, of whom only 114 were conceived with assisted reproductive techniques.

The findings further add that children conceived through IVF were at 45 percent greater risk of death before 1 year of age in comparison to children conceived naturally. Experts add the level of risk was dependent on the type of assisted reproductive technique and number of days passed since birth. The risk however became less intense after first week of birth.

“Our results indicate that the kind of assisted reproductive technique used may make a difference, and therefore it is important to further investigate what causes or underlying mechanisms are behind the risks,” explained Anastasia Nyman Iliadou, associate professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet and senior lead author. “They also show the need for extra attention and care of children conceived with IVF, especially during the first week of life.”