IVF children are less likely to be aggressive or delinquent in their teenage years, according to a ground-breaking research study conducted at The University of Western Australia — but they could be more prone to depression.
The unique research from UWA, in partnership with the Raine Study, looked at the mental health of 163 adolescents born in Western Australia following an IVF process, and compared to a control group of teenagers.
And the results, which have now been published in the ‘Human Reproduction’ journal, showed the IVF offspring were more responsible and better behaved.
“The results of our latest study are interesting because they show that at both 14 and 17 years of age, ART-conceived teenagers are better behaved, demonstrating less externalising behaviour traits,” study leader Professor Roger Hart said.
However, Professor Hart said a slight increase in depression was noted in 14-year-olds conceived with assisted reproductive technology.
“At 14 years of age IVF offspring had a higher incidence of clinical depression (12 per cent compared to eight per cent) although this difference had gone by 17 years of age,” Professor Hart said.
“It is reassuring that differences in the rates of depression were not observed at age 17 but these findings require replication.
“As the use of assisted reproduction is common and mental health disorders are increasing, knowledge about a potential association is important for parents and health care providers.”
The team also published a paper earlier this year by Laura Wijs, from UWA’s Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, which looked at general health in IVF adolescents.
Professor Hart said it found IVF girls had a lower body mass index and less fat than the control group — but no significant differences were found with the male teens.
“Further reassuring data for both IVF children themselves, and their parents, is that our research showed that there were no differences in any blood measures of cardiac or metabolic risk between the two groups,” he said.
One in 20 babies born in Australia are now conceived through IVF.
“We really hope that these studies will offer reassurance to couples considering embarking on IVF treatment, to children and adults born from IVF treatment and to IVF clinicians counselling their patients who have trouble conceiving,” Professor Hart added.