(NaturalNews) Children born to parents who used in vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, or some other form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in order to conceive are as much as four times more likely to develop asthma or similar respiratory failure compared to children born naturally. These are the findings of a new study out of England that raises potential red flags about the long-term safety of these and various other modern pregnancy options.
Researchers from both Oxford University and the University of Essex in the U.K. evaluated data compiled as part of the Millennium Cohort Study on 19,000 children born between 2000 and 2002. Published in the journal Human Reproduction, their findings reveal a strong connection between children born via ART and higher than normal rates of asthma, wheezing, and the use of anti-asthmatic drugs.
Claire Carson and her colleagues compiled data specifically on single-birth children, meaning they were not born as twins or triplets, between the ages of five and seven. Among the five-year-old group, 100 were born as a result of ART, which was confirmed through surveys with the children's parents that took into account other factors that may have affected asthma rates, including premature birth, family history of smoking, body mass index (BMI), socioeconomic status, and the presence of pets at home.
After adjusting for these external factors, the research team determined that children born as a result of ART are between two and four times more likely than their peers to develop an asthmatic condition. And while these findings do not definitively establish a cause and effect relationship between ART and asthma, they do raise some interesting questions about how artificial birth affects a child later in life.
"15 percent of the children in our study had asthma at the age of five," explained Carson. "Although this figure was higher, 24 percent, in the IVF children, it isn't much higher than the one in five risk for all children in the U.K.," she added, contrasting the relative risk of ART children developing asthma with the absolute, overall risk among all children.
Even so, Carson admits that her study's findings build upon a growing body of evidence that shows IVF and other forms of ART may be linked to high rates of asthma. A 2011 study published in the Swedish journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, for instance, also found that children born through IVF are at an increased risk of developing asthma, as well as other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and cerebral palsy.