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Can Infertility Increase the Risk for Developmental Problems in Offspring?
A study to be published in an upcoming Fetal & Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood suggests that longer time to conception, as is the case for fertility patients, may put parents at greater risk of having children with minor neurological development complications.
Scientists analyzed neurological development of just over 200 children at the age of two. Each of these children was born to parents who struggled with infertility and 122 of which were conceived with fertility treatment. Eighty-seven were conceived without assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Neurological issues including poor hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and motor function were observed in 17 of these children. The average time to conception of these children was four years; longer time than the children without neurological issues. Investigators controlled for parental age and other factors that may influence risk of neurological development complications. They concluded that longer time to conception was correlated with 30% greater chance of mild neurological complications.
It may be theorized, as a result, that infertility is linked to neurological disorders in offspring. However, the sample size was not large and there is not enough data to form a generalized conclusion about fertility and neurological development. The children who did not present with neurological complications were conceived, on average, after two years and eight months.
We can learn from this data that couples struggling to conceive should seek a consultation with a fertility doctor sooner than later to avoid any potential risk for developmental issues in their offspring. Further research is warranted in a larger scale study.