The Raine Study helps understand mental health of IVF kids

Researchers from The University of Western Australia, using data from the Raine Study, found teenagers born after in vitro fertilisation had a decreased tendency towards aggressive and delinquent behaviour and an age-specific increase in depression.

The research, published in Human Reproduction, looked at the mental health of 163 adolescents born in WA following IVF, compared to a control group of teenagers.

Lead researcher Professor Roger Hart, from UWA Medical School, said one in 20 babies born in Australia was now conceived through IVF.

He said most research had focused on short-term outcomes, but this study looked at mental health in older children who were part of the Raine Study – the oldest pre-birth longitudinal study in the world and Australia’s longest-running public health study.

Professor Hart said an increase in depression was noted in 14-year-olds conceived with assisted reproductive technology.

“At 14 years of age IVF offspring had a higher incidence of clinical depression (12 per cent compared to eight per cent) although this difference had gone by 17 years of age,” Professor Hart said.

“It is reassuring that differences in the rates of depression were not observed at age 17 but these findings require replication.

“As the use of assisted reproduction is common and mental health disorders are increasing, knowledge about a potential association is important for parents and health care providers.”

Professor Hart said it found IVF girls had a lower BMI and less subcutaneous fat than the control group. No significant differences were found with the male teens.

Professor Hart said when they assessed their lung function, there were no differences detected between the two groups of 14-year-olds for asthma but the IVF group did demonstrate a tendency towards more allergies such as hay fever and food allergies.

With thanks to our partners at the University of Western Australia who first published this content on 28 September 2022.

For more information about the research being done by Professor Hart’s team to understand the health of children conceived via in vitro fertilisation with those conceived naturally, please visit the Raine Study’s Reproductive Health Special Interest Group page.

Learn more about the contributions of the Raine Study to mental health research on our Psychological SIG page.

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