A new study warns babies born from frozen embryos, through in vitro fertilization (IVF), have a higher chance of developing certain cancers compared to other children. The study's findings were originally published in the journal JAMA.
For the study, the team examined data of close to a million Danish children's health records. The team found those babies who were conceived through assisted reproduction, which involves a frozen embryo transfer, had a much higher chance of developing childhood cancer. The risk of leukaemia and a brain cancer called neuroblastoma were especially high for these children.
"We did not find increased risks with other types of fertility treatments," study lead author Marie Hargreave of The Danish Cancer Society Research Center in Copenhagen, told a news portal.
Researchers hope further studies are conducted to validate their findings. Hargreavetold a news portal "it is important to stress the fact that the increased risk is very small for the individual as childhood cancer is very rare."
While the findings of the study are important, Dr Alan B. Copperman, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, believes more research is needed to better understand the link.
Copperman told a news portal "it is not clear whether the finding is related to the procedure itself or the patients who needed the procedure" and "any time a rare event is studied in a large retrospective study, the statistical precision to make accurate conclusions is limited."
Childhood cancer could give rise to other health issues. A 2019 study, published in the American Heart Association, revealed childhood cancer survivors are at risk of developing heart disease. "While anthracycline chemotherapy may induce heart disease, many patients require this cancer treatment to survive," Paul Nathan, senior author of the study and staff oncologist in the division of hematology/oncology and senior associate scientist in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Canada, told a news portal.
Adding, "The close connections between lifestyle, metabolic disorders and cardiac disease warrant careful follow-up and monitoring of the childhood cancer survivor population."
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