Fertility drugs can 'more than double the chances of childhood leukemia'
Scary new research has revealed fertility drugs can more than double the chances of childhood leukemia.
A French study found that children born to mothers who took ovary-stimulating drugs were 2.6 times more likely to develop the most common childhood leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
They also had a 2.3 fold increased risk of suffering the rarer form of the disease, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the researchers claimed.
The findings further revealed that youngsters conceived naturally after women waited over a year to get pregnant had a 50% greater than normal likelihood of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
There were no increased risks found with either IVF or artificial insemination.
The scientists undertaking the research say they cannot as yet explain why the ovary-stimulating drugs increase the risk.
Dr Jeremie Rudant from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at the French research institute INSERM in Villejuif, Paris, revealed the findings to delegates at the Childhood Cancer 2012 conference in London.
He explained that 2,445 French children and their mothers had taken part in the research, and were made up of 764 children with leukemia and 1,681 who did not have the disease.
Their mothers were asked if they had taken more than a year to conceive their child, and questioned about the treatments they had received to help them fall pregnant.
The Press Association reports that around 44,000 cycles of fertility treatment are carried out each year in the UK, with 1.8% of all live births in 2007 a result of fertility treatment, compared with just 0.5% in 1992. Despite a significant increase in risk, the actual number of children developing leukemia after their mothers undergo fertility treatment remains very small. Only 400 cases of childhood leukemia are diagnosed in UK each year. Three-quarters of those are acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is most common in children between the ages of one and four, and affects more boys than girls.
Do reports like this worry you, or do you think any minuscule 'risk' can be whipped up into a scary statistic?