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Does adult health differ when you're conceived in a dish?

February 17, 2010 |  9:02 am

IVF Considering that children have been born using in vitro fertilization for about three decades, it's reassuring to learn that they are healthy and well-adjusted people.

That is the conclusion of a study published Wednesday in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Researchers at the Jones Institute of Reproductive Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School questioned a group of young adults conceived by IVF at that clinic between 1981 and 1990. The first IVF birth in the United States was achieved there in 1981.

The IVF-born young adults in the study (173 of them) were found to be healthy and well-adjusted with no increased susceptibility to chronic diseases. Other studies, however, have raised questions about whether IVF conception raises the risk of certain birth defects or diseases.

However, the IVF babies -- especially the females -- in the study did have higher rates of clinical depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and binge drinking behavior when compared with other young adults. Almost 16% of the women reported some history of depression compared with 12.7% in the general population of women in this age group. Also, the rate of ADHD in the population is 3% to 5%, but IVF babies in the study had a rate of 27.1%.

It's unclear what, if anything, about IVF conception may lead to higher rates of depression, drinking and ADHD. According to the researchers, possible explanations are stress among parents who undergo IVF and family secrecy about the IVF process.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Ken Hively  /  Los Angeles Times