Ovarian stimulating fertility drugs are drastically increase the risk of leukemia in children, a French research team announced this week. Children of mothers who tried to conceive for more than a year before using fertility medications to get pregnant are as much as 50 percent more likely to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the most common type of leukemia.
Using ovarian stimulating drugs was linked to a 2.6-fold higher chance of a child developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia, while the risk of a child getting the rarer acute myeloid leukemia was increased 22.3-fold. Researchers from the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (INSERM) from Paris concluded this after looking at 764 French children who had leukemia, as well as 1,681 kids who didn't have the disease.
Dr Jeremie Rudant said: "It has always been hypothesized that assisted reproductive technologies may be involved in the onset of childhood cancer as they involve repeated treatment at the time of conception and/or manipulation of the sperm and egg. And it is now established that a majority of acute leukemia have a prenatal origin."
The study found no link between IVF treatment and leukemia. Rudant commented: "Previous studies have suggested a link between infertility treatments and acute childhood leukemia, but there haven't been many studies. Most of them have been small, and they focused either on IVF or hormonal treatment. Our study was much larger, and it's the first time that a specific increased risk linked to fertility drugs has been found."
Interesting, and somewhat horrifying stuff, that's for sure. I can't help but wonder how accurate their findings were based on the way they conducted their research. Would the results have been any different if they looked at as many children born with the help of fertility drugs as possible and noted their leukemia rate? Reuters, reporting the study, commented that there are only 400 cases of leukemia diagnosed in the UK each year but around 44,000 cycles of fertility treatment.
All isn't sunny with IVF either... read: IVF babies more likely to have birth defects?