London: Children born after fertility treatment have double the risk of developing asthma than those born after natural planned pregnancies, a new study has suggested. Researchers conducting the UK Millennium Cohort Study found children born after IVF have a twofold higher risk of wheezing and are up to four times more likely to take anti-asthmatic medicines by the age of five, a daily reported.

The link was discovered after analysing data on 18,818 children from across the UK born between 2000 and 2002.

But the researchers said that the findings do not prove that asthma is triggered by IVF and any children born as a result remain at low risk.

The researchers compared children in different groups with those born after natural planned pregnancies.

The results showed that children born to sub-fertile parents were 39 per cent more likely to be experiencing asthma symptoms by the age of five and 27 per cent more likely to wheeze than children born after planned pregnancies.

But closer analysis found a stronger link between asthma and children conceived via some form of assisted reproduction treatment including IVF (in vitro fertilisation).

They had a risk of developing asthma more than two-and-a-half times higher, nearly two-fold increased risk of wheezing and more than four-fold increased risk of taking anti-asthmatic medications.

The risks were slightly reduced at the age of seven, according to a report in the medical journal Human Reproduction.

The researchers said their findings should be interpreted with caution as only 104 children in the study were born after fertility treatment.

"Childhood asthma is a common condition in the UK where the prevalence of the condition is higher than other European countries, and to our knowledge this is the first UK study of asthma after IVF conceptions," the paper quoted lead researcher Dr Claire Carson, from Oxford University, as saying.

"Our analysis suggests that it is the assisted reproduction group in particular who are at higher risk," Dr Carson added.

There could be a number of possible explanations for the link between infertility, IVF and asthma, including the severity of the infertility and possible role played by treatment, said the researchers.

(Agencies)

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