Study of ART-born children

General health & hospital admissions in Children Born after assisted reproductive technologies (ART); A Population Based Linkage Study.

Nearly 1 in 50 children in the UK are born after assisted reproductive technologies, including IVF and related techniques.

The number and proportion of children born after ART is increasing year on year. Worldwide there are already over 5 million such individuals.

Whilst the development of IVF has been of great benefit to millions of families, the growing numbers of children born as a result of IVF make it increasingly important that potential health risks to these children are investigated in scientifically robust ways.

There are various theoretical reasons why children born after IVF might have higher rates of illness and hospital admissions compared to children born after spontaneous conception. These include increased risks of being born prematurely and or with low birth weight, developing cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

Few studies have investigated these risks and those that have are too small to produce reliable answers.

We aim to look at these issues in England & Wales by comparing the health experiences of children born after IVF to their spontaneously conceived siblings and the general population.

We will do this by linking children born after IVF, as recorded by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to Hospital Episode Statistics, held by the NHS. This study has been planned so that children’s details are never seen by us the researchers. The only people who will see children’s information are the HFEA, who already have access to this, and the NHS.

Although this study requires access to two highly confidential and sensitive datasets, it would not be possible to study these important topics in any other way. This study has been approved by the London research ethics committee and the Confidentiality Advisory Group, a special ethics committee which governs studies using people’s data when it is not possible to ask people about using it directly.

If you think you or your child might be included in this study and you either have any questions, or you would rather you were not included in this study, you can contact either Professor Alastair Sutcliffe ([email protected]), or the HFEA directly (10 Spring Gardens London, SW1A 2BU, Tel: 020 7291 8200, Fax: 020 7291 8201, Email: [email protected]).