LISBON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Conception by assisted reproductive technology is not associated with lower academic performance in adolescence, a large nationwide analysis showed.

In crude analyses, ART singletons had higher academic performance than spontaneously conceived singletons and ART twins performed as well as ART singletons. After adjustment for confounders, academic performance was similar between all singletons and between ART twins and ART singletons.

“These findings are very reassuring for the parents of ART children and for the ART society as a whole,” study author Anne Lærke Spangmose Pedersen said at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

ART children and twins in general have an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight, but only a handful of studies have explored IQ in these children.

A recent study (BJOG 2014;121:1642-51) reported similar IQ, attention, and executive function in ART and non-ART children at age 5 years; however, no previous studies have included ninth-grade test scores in a complete national cohort of adolescents all conceived by ART, noted Ms. Pedersen, a medical student at Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark.

To do this, the investigators used compulsory national registers and the Danish IVF and Medical Birth Registry to identify 10,429 individuals born in Denmark from 1995 to 1998. This included all children conceived by ART (fresh embryo in-vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection), totaling 2,838 singletons and 1,930 twins, and a random sample of 5,661 non-ART singletons.

The primary outcome was the mean test score on the National Test, which is used for university entrance and completed by all ninth-grade students in Denmark at ages 15-16 years. Mandatory subjects include Danish, foreign languages, mathematics, and physics/chemistry, with scores ranging from –3 to +12 (mean 7). Scores were available for 2,544 ART singletons, 4,985 non-ART singletons, and 1,676 ART twins.

The mean test scores were 7.16 in ART singletons, 6.74 in non-ART singletons, and 7.21 in ART twins. The difference was statistically significant between ART and non-ART singletons (P < .001), but not between ART singletons and twins (P = .47), Ms. Pedersen said.

After adjustment for a variety of factors, including maternal age and socioeconomic status, which tend to be higher in ART families, the difference did not persist, she said.

“It’s not the final conclusion, but I think the data at this moment are reassuring,” session comoderator Dr. Willianne Nelen of Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands) Medical Centre said in an interview. Like members of the audience, she said that data should be pooled from studies and that more data are needed from ART children and parents.

During the discussion of the results, Ms. Pedersen noted that preterm birth rates were significantly higher in ART singletons than non-ART singletons (4.6% vs. 2.7%; P < .001) and in ART twins, compared with ART singletons (22.8% vs. 4.6%; P < .001).

Ms. Pedersen reported having no financial disclosures.

On Twitter @pwendl


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