Fertility drugs could more than double the risk of offspring developing childhood leukaemia, academics cautioned this week. Each year, tens of thousands of women in Britain undergo fertility treatment, which usually demands they take drugs to stimulate their ovaries to produce more eggs. Over 13,000 babies per year are born through assisted fertility technology. While no convincing evidence has hitherto emerged that fertility treatment leads to cancer, French researchers told a conference in London they believe ovarian stimulation drugs are associated with 2 kinds of childhood leukaemia.
Dr Jéremié Rudant, of the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, in Villejuif, France, who led the research, said: "Previous studies have suggested a link between infertility treatments and acute childhood leukaemia, but there haven’t been many studies, most of them have been small, and they focused either on IVF or hormonal treatment. Our study was much larger and it’s the first time that a specific increased risk linked to fertility drugs has been found."
Strangely, the study found no increased risk in children whose mothers had undergone IVF - even though almost all of those women took ovarian stimulation drugs - or those who were artificially inseminated. Ken Campbell, of the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said it was "plausible" that the drugs could make pre-natal conditions more conducive to subsequent development of leukaemia in childhood. He urged caution, however. "This research is a long way from proving that A causes B. There are several alternative explanations." ~ London Telegraph, Apr 24