Children conceived via infertility treatments to have low mental health outcomes
Children conceived through medically assisted reproduction (MAR) fare better at school but are slightly more likely to have mental health problems by their late teens, finds a new study.
Published in the European Journal of Population, the observational study explores the link between medically assisted reproduction - including techniques such as IVF treatment, artificial insemination and ovulation induction - and young people's educational outcomes and mental health.
The researchers used administrative records on 280,682 Finnish children born between 1995 and 2000, and compared a range of educational and mental health outcomes among adolescents aged between 16 and 18 who were conceived naturally (266,925) and through medically assisted reproduction (13,757).
The researchers found that adolescents conceived by medically assisted reproduction performed better in school, were less likely to drop out and were at a lower risk of not being in education or employment or leaving home early compared to naturally conceived adolescents. These differences mostly disappeared when family circumstances were accounted for, suggesting that socioeconomic background is an important factor in explaining this advantage.
The researchers also found that adolescents conceived via medically assisted reproduction were not more likely to experience mental health problems. However, after accounting for family circumstances, the study revealed that they were at an increased risk of developing a mental disorder - particularly anxiety or depression - with around 10 per cent of medically assisted reproduction conceived adolescents compared to nine per cent of naturally conceived adolescents receiving a mental health diagnosis between ages 16-18.
Researchers conclude that, small as a percentage, this difference in risk is comparable to the difference between children of secondary and tertiary educated parents. Although modest, the findings based on several indicators of mental health were consistent.
Reference: Hanna Remes, Maria Palma, Riina Peltonen, Pekka Martikainen, Alice Goisis (2022) The well- being of adolescents conceived through medically assisted reproduction: a population-level and within- family analysis published in European Journal of Population.
B.Sc Life Sciences, M.Sc Biotechnology, B.Ed