It kills me to write this post, knowing how many couples want so badly to be parents, who go through all of the intense pain and high cost involved with IVF (including close friends of mine). They feel as if they've won the Lotto when they can finally hold their babies in their arms after sometimes years of struggling to become adoring moms and dads. Ah, a happy ending. It makes all of the physical, emotional and financial troubles worth it, right? My answer would usually be yes.
That's why after reading about a new study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, my stomach is in giant Girl Scout badge-worthy knots. Researchers reviewed 25 studies from 12 developed countries, including the US, the UK, Denmark, France and Israel, from 1990 to 2010, and they found that babies born after fertility treatments were 33 percent more likely to have childhood cancer, 65 percent more likely to develop leukemia, and 88 percent more likely to develop cancers of the brain and central nervous system. That sound was my heart sinking.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, researchers made a disclaimer. "They warned these changes could be triggered by aspects of fertility treatment such as exposure to hormones, semen preparation, freezing embryos, growth conditions of embryos or delayed insemination. But they could not rule out the chance that the increased risk was the result of parents' infertility, not the treatment."
Either way, it causes a huge dilemma for fertility-challenged couples. Do they still try a round of IVF despite this new information that says their children may have an increased risk of developing cancer? Or do they give up all hope of carrying a child, and look into surrogates, or if a biological child still isn't possible, adopt? And is it selfish to still go through IVF knowing the cancer risks involved for your future children? Are you putting your needs before theirs? There are so many questions. As if going through fertility treatment wasn't stressful enough!
After hearing this, and already having a child, it's easy for me to think that I wouldn't go through IVF if I was to have secondary infertility. But I don't think I could really know what I'd do for sure without hearing my doctor say that getting pregnant was impossible without IVF. I think when you have that tear-filled conversation, you're willing to do just about anything. So how can you judge someone for making the decision to continue to try? After all, IVF still produces some healthy children, too. Did I mention this is making me sick just thinking about it? This is one study I really hope is wrong!
TELL US: Would you still use IVF after hearing about the possible link between it and childhood cancer?
Image of pregnant woman courtesy of Shutterstock.