hero image

The Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, found a slightly higher increase in developing the obsessive-compulsive disorder in children born after assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs). However, this risk was not because of ARTs. The parents’ habits instead accounted for it.

According to Chen Wang, a doctoral student and study co-author at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, the researchers were happy to find positive results in the psychiatric development of people born after ARTs. This study is the first where scientists have examined them as adults.

Studies have shown the risk of ART

Over 9 million children have been born with ARTs since 1978. While in vitro fertilization has improved infertility treatment, other studies have found a correlation between using ARTs and an increased risk of problems like low birth weight, premature birth, and congenital disabilities.

Very few studies have looked into the dangers of conceiving from ARTs.  This new study is the first to look into the impact ARTs have on the mental health of children born through the procedure.

How researchers conducted the study 

The researchers examined over 1.2 million individuals born between 1994 and 2006 in Sweden. About 31,565 of these participants were conceived using ART. By the time this study ended, the participants were between 12 and 25.

The researchers also gained access to registry-based data, which gave them clinical diagnoses of the volunteers’ suicidal behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and major depression.

The researchers explained that ART was not the only factor contributing to the health of a child conceived by ART. Instead, certain traits might be in parents that undergo the procedure.

For this reason, researchers tried to separate the effects of the treatment from the influence a parent’s background, such as mental health history, education, age of the parents, and infertility, could have on the child’s long-term health.

Sara Öberg, another study author and associate professor at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, concluded that children conceived through ART didn’t undergo any psychiatric challenges due to the treatment.

While they had a higher risk of OCD than those born without ART, this was not because of the procedure itself. Instead, it was due to the parents’ backgrounds. When they adjusted for this, the risk for OCD disappeared.