Although artificially conceived babies have a higher risk of being born prematurely, they may be just as smart as those born after natural conception, says a study.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, also showed that parents who undergo such treatments are generally older, more educated and have a higher socio-economic status than parents who had naturally conceived children.
"The findings suggest that the positive effect of the family background of children conceived through artificial reproduction techniques 'overrides' the risks of related poor health impairing their cognitive ability," said Melinda Mills, Professor at University of Oxford.
"Although artificially conceived babies have a higher risk of being born prematurely or as a multiple birth, we have found they also have parents who are older, better educated and from a higher income bracket," Mills added.
"These are all factors linked with better outcomes for children. What is significant is that this positive effect is over the long term up to the age of 11. The findings support other studies showing that on balance such fertility treatments do not impair a child's higher thinking skills," Mills said.
For the study, the researchers used data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative group of 18,552 families.
Out of 15,281 artificially conceived children born in 2000-2001, more than 8,000 were followed up for cognitive ability tests in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2012.
Standardised tests (British Ability Scales) were used at each stage to assess the children's vocabulary skills (at three and five), reading at seven, and use of verbs at 11.
The scores were compared with those of children who had been naturally conceived.
Improved measures of cognitive development up to age five years were recorded in children conceived with assisted reproductive technology (ART) compared to natural conception, which attenuates by 11 years, with ART children still scoring slightly better than children born after natural conception.
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