Children conceived through fertility treatment like IVF are one third more likely to have psychiatric problems such as autism or schizophrenia than those born naturally, research suggests.
Although the increased risk was described as “modest” researchers found it persisted throughout childhood into adulthood.
However researchers believe that it is not fertility procedures that are to blame but rather mothers who struggle to get pregnant are passing down faulty genes to their offspring.
Dr Allan Jensen of the University of Copenhagan said fertility doctors needed to be aware of “the small, but potentially increased risk of psychiatric disorders among the children born to women with fertility problems.”
However, this knowledge, he added, “should always be balanced against the physical and psychological benefits of a pregnancy.”
For some, at least, of the women who struggle to become pregnant the problem will be that the genes they’re trying to become pregnant with aren’t very good. So, if extra care is taken to make sure that they do become pregnant then one might expect more faulty genes along the way.
“It is known, for example, that psychiatric disorders to some degree have a genetic component.
“It is perhaps thus likely that that these damaged genes coding for psychiatric diseases are overrepresented in women with fertility problems, and, if transferred to their offspring, this may at least partly explain the increased risk of psychiatric diseases.”