Asthma, allergy risk may be higher for children conceived with infertility treatment

News Release

Thursday, April 21, 2022

What

Children conceived with infertility treatment may have a higher risk for asthma and allergies, suggests a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The study was conducted by scientists at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. It appears in Human Reproduction.

The study enrolled approximately 5,000 mothers and 6,000 children born between 2008 and 2010. Mothers responded periodically to questionnaires on their health and their children’s health and medical histories. Infertility treatments included in vitro fertilization (sperm and egg are combined in a laboratory dish and inserted in the uterus), drugs that stimulate ovulation, and a procedure in which sperm are inserted into the uterus.

Compared to children conceived without infertility treatment, children conceived after treatment were more likely to have persistent wheeze by age 3, a potential indication of asthma. At 7 to 9 years old, children conceived with treatment were 30% more likely to have asthma, 77% more likely to have eczema (an allergic condition resulting in rashes and itchy skin) and 45% more likely to have a prescription for an allergy medication.

The authors called for additional research to determine how infertility treatment or lower parental fertility might influence the development of asthma and allergy in children.

Who

Edwina Yeung, Ph.D., of the NICHD Epidemiology Branch and senior author of the study, is available for comment.

Article

Polinski KJ et al. Infertility treatment associated with childhood asthma and atopy. Human Reproduction. 2022. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deac070

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD leads research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all. For more information, visit https://www.nichd.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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