During a night in July 25th, 1978, in Oldham-Manchester, England, gynecologist Patrick Steptoe begins probably the most important surgery of his career. Next to him the embryologist Robert Edwards. Shortly after the crying of a child being heard. The birth of a healthy girl after fertilization of the ovum outside the mother’s body has become a reality! The next day, the news travel him around the world and describe it as a miracle of science. This first child is a symbol of success of IVF and marks the beginning of a new era in the field of assisted reproduction.
Since then 37 years passed, and it is estimated that over five millions children worldwide were born with IVF method. The mental and physical health and development of these children compared to children resulting from spontaneous conception attracted the scientists attention from the beginning.
The correlation between children born by IVF and children by natural conception is not easy. For this reason scientists have designated specific correlation parameters. The first parameter refers to the prenatal period. It was observed that the age of women who are pregnant through IVF is greater, this is explained by the fact that the efforts of the couples start slowly and last several years. But women starting a pregnancy over the 38 face their greatest incidence of complications during pregnancy like pre-eclampsia, diabetes, intrauterine growth retardation, smaller pup weight at birth and increased incidence of birth by caesarean section.
Another parameter studied is the incidence of multiple pregnancies which was found to be significantly elevated in couples undergoing IVF procedure. In case of transfer of several embryos the probability of twin pregnancy is 20 times greater. Significantly increased is also the probability of triplets – multiple pregnancy is also associated with an increased incidence of complications. To drastically reduce this phenomenon, many countries have limited the number of embryos that can be transferred to two and in some cases to one.
In studies that compared singletons and respective age categories found increased incidence of prematurity and children with low weight at birth after IVF. Unlike the prediction of twin pregnancies after IVF seems to be better than the general population! Many studies link the increased incidence of preterm births observed in singletons on the cause of the mother without excluding the effect of the method itself.
The comparative study of the incidence of birth defects in children resulting from IVF showed a slight increase. The increase observed appears to be related to the genetic material of the parents and less with the application of the method.
Other parameters studied the incidence of childhood cancer, and congenital heart defects. The previous studies showed no particular sensitivity to children resulting from IVF compared with children raised by spontaneous conception.
Although the results so far of children resulting from IVF are encouraging, it is very important to continue data collection for decades to fully clarify the issues of health and developmental progress of children.