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ART study shows possible link to hereditary condition

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

19 November 2002

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[BioNews, London] A new study suggests that children born as a result of assisted reproduction technologies may have a greater risk of particular hereditary birth defects than children who are naturally conceived.

A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington in the US studied a national registry of 65 children with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, a rare hereditary overgrowth disorder that can cause cancer and developmental malformations in children. Seven of the children were conceived using assisted reproduction technology and five of these had specific chromosomal mutations on chromosome 11 with a known link to the syndrome.

The authors of the study, which will be published in the January 2003 edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics, concluded that children born after assisted reproduction technology had a six-fold increase in the likelihood of developing Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome than other children. They found that the risk rose from one in 15,000 births to one in 2,500 births if assisted reproduction technologies were used.

Lead author Dr Andrew Feinberg said that couples with fertility problems should not avoid treatment if they wanted to have a child, but added that additional research was required: 'this analysis should not affect people's decisions about whether to have IVF, because our findings still need to be validated'. Dr Roger Gosden of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Virginia, US, said that further studies could show whether the higher incidence of the condition recorded in this study was the result of using assisted reproduction technologies rather than coincidence.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 19 November 2002   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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