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Fertility drugs linked to leukaemia in children

By John von Radowitz

Fertility drugs can more than double the chances of children born to mothers who struggle to get pregnant developing leukaemia, a study has shown.

Children were 2.6 times more likely to become ill with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the most common type of childhood leukaemia, if their mothers had been treated with ovary-stimulating drugs.

They had a 2.3-fold increased risk of suffering the rarer form of the disease, acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Children conceived naturally after their mothers waited more than a year to get pregnant had a 50% greater-than-normal likelihood of developing ALL. But no heightened risk of childhood leukaemia was associated with in-vitro fertilisation.

The French scientists’ findings, are the first to show a specific link between use of fertility drugs and childhood leukaemia.

Study leader Dr Jeremie Rudant, from the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at the French research institute INSERM in Villejuif, Paris, said: “It has always been hypothesised that assisted reproductive technologies may be involved in the onset of childhood cancer.”

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