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Fertility Treatments may Increase the Risk of Psychiatric Disorders in Children

First Posted: Jun 30, 2014 12:08 PM EDT

Certain factors may increase the risk of psychiatric conditions in newborns. A recent study found that children born to women who underwent fertility treatments were at an 33 percent increased rate for developing certain behavioral health issues.

For the study, researchers gathered data from a registered study of all children born in Denmark between 1969 and 2006. Researchers found that 124,384 out of a total 2,439,826 children were born with fertility problems. Researchers then examined their risk for psychiatric disorders until 2009.

Throughout this time, 170,240 of the children were diagnosed with some mental disorders. Researchers found that women with fertility issues who endured certain treatments throughout their pregnancy had children with a 33 percent higher chance of developing a psychiatric condition.

A separate analysis was also conducted to compare rates of psychiatric disorders diagnosed during childhood and in young adults. However, researchers found that the rate of the mental disorder did not change significantly. In other words, the increased risk continued on into adulthood.

Researchers said they have found that the risk of developing schizophrenia, anxiety issues and even autism can be pinpointed to some children of mothers with fertility issues. The researchers further explained that underlying genetic issues in the mother, rather than how the fertility treatment may increase the risk of the mental disorder.

"The small, but potentially increased risk of psychiatric disorders among the children born to women with fertility problems," said Dr Allan Jensen of the Danish Cancer Society Research Center at the University of Copenhagen, in a news release.  "However, this knowledge, he added, "should always be balanced against the physical and psychological benefits of a pregnancy."

"The exact mechanisms behind the observed increase in risk are still unknown but it is generally believed that underlying infertility has a more important role in adverse effects in offspring than the treatment procedures," Jensen said.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the 30th Annual Meeting of ESHRE in Munich

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