Fertility Treatment Options Won't Cause Development Delays

Posted on January 28, 2016 by MD

Couples who choose fertility treatment options like intrauterine insemination, egg donation or IVF don't have to worry about their child having developmental delays, thanks to a study by the National Institutes of Health. The study was published in January 2016 in the online journal JAMA Pediatrics, and was conducted by researchers at the NIH, the New York State Department of Health and other institutions. The findings refute longstanding beliefs among some that fertility treatment can affect embryos at a sensitive stage which causes in development delays or disabilities in children. "When we began our study, there was little research on the potential effects of conception via fertility treatments on U.S. children,” said Edwina Yeung, Ph.D., an investigator at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Our results provide reassurance to the thousands of couples who have relied on these treatments to establish their families.”

Interesting findings about children born with fertility treatment options

Study authors compared developmental assessment scores of 1,800 children born to women who received fertility treatments with those of more than 4,000 children who were conceived without fertility treatment options.

Children in the study were conceived following:

  • In vitro fertilization,
  • Frozen embryo transfer,
  • Assisted hatching,
  • Gamete intrafallopian transfer,
  • Zygote intrafallopian transfer,
  • Ovulation induction, and
  • Intrauterine insemination.

Children were screened for various developmental delays throughout their first three years. Assessments were take between 4 and 6 months, and at 8 months, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months and 36 months. Five developmental areas (fine motor, gross motor, communication, personal and social functioning and problem solving) were considered.

The study found that children conceived using the services of a New York fertility clinic scored just as well as children whose parents didn’t require assistive reproductive technology.

Additionally, the researchers accounted for a larger percentage of twins born to parents who use fertility treatment and found no significant difference between the groups in any of the five developmental areas.

There were also no differences among singleton children in the two groups who were referred for treatment by a developmental specialist. Of the children in the study, 21.2 percent of children conceived via fertility assistance were referred for evaluation compared with 20.7 percent in the control group.

And there was no significant difference between the groups when researchers considered children who were ultimately diagnosed with a developmental disability between 3-4 years of age. In the assisted fertility group, 13 percent of children were diagnosed compared to 18 percent in the non-assisted group.

What’s next for researchers

While this news should certainly comfort parents who receive treatment at a fertility clinic NYC, more research is needed. That’s because some development disabilities can’t be diagnosed by age 3. Researchers will continue to evaluate children in these groups until age 8 to see if significant changes occur.

If you are experiencing difficulty conceiving, please contact us to learn more fertility treatments at one of the most successful fertility clinics in New York City.



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College of American Pathologists
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