Study: IVF associated with slight increase in cancer, but shouldn't dissuade parents-to-be

in vitro fertilization
Image depicting in vitro fertilization of an egg in 2006.
Niels Geijsen, Massachusetts General Hospital | National Science Foundation 2006

A study of more than 275,000 children conceived through in vitro fertilization found they were 17 percent more likely to develop cancer than children conceived naturally. But the study's lead researcher, Logan Spector, said it shouldn't deter people who are considering IVF.

"The overall rate of cancer is about 60 per million. A 17 percent increased risk would be about 70 per million," he said.

In short, childhood cancer is rare and is still rare with a slight increase.

But Spector, a professor in the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, did see more statistically significant differences when looking at a particular kind of cancer. IVF children were 2.5 times more likely than non-IVF children to develop hepatic tumors.

Spector discussed his study with MPR News host Tom Crann. Click play on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

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