Several studies have shown how IVF kids cope with developmental delays and mental health conditions. Lesser we know about how being conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) contributes to the psychosocial development and quality of life later in adolescence and adulthood.
The new research published in “Human Fertility” is positively reassuring news to people who have conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) like IVF or are looking forward to conceiving via IVF. According to the study, IVF children can confer advantages in quality of life in adulthood with less psychological distress and better independent social factors.
In this Article
The study: Contribution of ART conception to adult quality of life
Aiming to analyze the health, and well-being of ART-conceived children, the study investigates the health and development of young adults aged 18-28 born via ART. The cohort population was again evaluated at the age of 22 to 35 for further medical, psychological, and social well-being.
The study involves 656 ART mothers having children born from 1982 to 1992 through IVF or gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) and 868 mothers conceived naturally from the same cohort population. With consent, the study mentions data of 193 ART and 86 naturally conceived young adults individuals in Victoria, Australia.
The participants had to complete a 150 itemized questionnaire, including a standardized quality of life measure (World Health Organization Quality of Life—Brief Assessment (WHOQoL-BREF) twice, once when aged 18-28 years (T1) and again when aged 22-35 years (T2). The WHOQoL-BREF questionnaire assessed the participants on four domains of quality of life:
1) Physical– Relating to pain, sleep, energy levels, mobility, daily living activities, dependence on medical substances, and work capacity
2) Psychosocial– Factors related to positive and negative feelings; thinking, learning, memory, and concentration; self-esteem; body image; and spirituality
3) Social relationships– To understand personal relationships, social support, and sexual activity
4) Environment– Includes items associated with freedom and physical safety and security, home environment, financial resources, accessibility and quality of social and health care, educational opportunities, leisure activity participation opportunities, physical environment, and transport.
The researchers further studied the association between factors present at T1 (mode of conception, mother’s age when the respondent was born, sexual orientation, family financial situation in secondary school, perceptions of own weight, number of close friends, frequency of vigorous exercise, and quality of the relationship with parents) and the scores on the four domains of WHOQoL-BREF at T2.
The study outcome and conclusion
The study scores of various domains calculated reveal that ART-conceived was associated with higher scores or better quality of life on the Psychological, Social relationships, and Environmental WHOQoL-BREF domains at T2. In addition, the psychological domain scores were positively associated with a better relationship with parents and negatively associated with more psychological distress at T1. Social relationship domain scores were positively associated with the female sex at T2.
The study proclaimed to be the “first of its kind study” explores the contributions of being conceived with ART and psychosocial factors present in young adulthood to the quality of life of adults. In terms of the effect of ART conception on adult quality of life, findings suggest that being ART-conceived confers some advantages. Together with the previously published evidence that ART and naturally conceived groups have similar physical health in adulthood, this study is more reassuring for people who are ART-conceived and those who need ART to conceive.
Not surprisingly, this study found ART-conceived children have a better relationship with parents and less psychological distress in early adulthood which are strongly linked to a better quality of life in adulthood.
Karin Hammarberg et al., Does being conceived by assisted reproductive technology influence adult quality of life? Human Fertility (2022). DOI:10.1080/14647273.2022.2042860