A nationwide historical cohort study with prospective follow-up was carried out, including all live-born offspring from women treated with ART between 1983 and 2011 and subfertile women not treated with ART in one of the 13 Dutch IVF clinics and two fertility centers.
There is growing evidence that ART procedures could perturb epigenetic processes during the pre-implantation period and influence long-term health. Recent studies showed (non-)significantly increased cancer risks after ICSI and FET, but not after IVF.
After a median follow-up of 18 years, the overall cancer risk was not increased in children conceived by ART, but a slight risk increase was observed in children conceived after ICSI.
This work was supported by The Dutch Cancer Society (NKI 2006-3631) that funded the OMEGA-women's cohort, Children Cancer Free (KIKA; 147) that funded the OMEGA-I-II offspring cohort. The OMEGA-III offspring cohort was supported by a Postdoc Stipend of Amsterdam Reproduction & Development, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01HD088393. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The authors declare no competing interests.
After a median follow-up of 18 years, children conceived using ART do not have an increased overall cancer risk. Many large studies with prolonged follow-up are needed to investigate cancer risk in (young) adults conceived by different types of ART. In addition, international pooling of studies is recommended to provide sufficient power to study risk of specific cancer sites after ART.
The observed increased risk among children conceived using ICSI must be interpreted with caution owing to the small number of cases.
In total, 358 cancers were observed after a median follow-up of 18 years. Overall cancer risk was not increased in children conceived using ART, when compared with the general population (SIR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.81-1.12) or with children from subfertile couples not conceived by ART (HR = 1.06, 95% CI = 0.84-1.33). Compared with children from subfertile couples not conceived by ART, the use of IVF or FET was not associated with increased cancer risk, but ICSI was associated with a slight risk increase (HR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.08-2.31). Risk of cancer after ART did not increase at older ages (≥18 years, HR = 1.26, 95% CI = 0.88-1.81) compared to cancer risk in children not conceived by ART.
Children were identified through the mothers' records in the Personal Records Database. Information on the conception method of each child was collected through the mother's medical record. In total, the cohort comprises 89 249 live-born children of subfertile couples, of whom 51 417 were conceived using ART and 37 832 were not (i.e. conceived naturally, through ovulation induction, or after IUI). Cancer incidence was ascertained through linkage with the Netherlands Cancer Registry for the period 1989-2019. Cancer risk in children conceived using ART was compared with risk in children born to subfertile couples but not conceived by ART (hazard ratio (HR)) and children from the general population (standardized incidence ratios (SIRs)).
Do children, adolescents, and young adults born after ART, including IVF, ICSI and frozen-thawed embryo transfer (FET), have an increased risk of cancer compared with children born to subfertile couples not conceived by ART and children from the general population?