Assisted reproduction and child neurodevelopmental outcomes: a systematic review

Children born after assisted reproduction show no consistent deficits in any specific neurodevelopmental outcomes, at any age. The neurodevelopment is overall comparable to that of children born after spontaneous conception.

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Bjørn Bay, M.D., Erik Lykke Mortensen, M.Sc., Ulrik Schiøler Kesmodel, Ph.D.

Volume 100, Issue 3, Pages 844-853, September 2013



To systematically review the existing literature on neurodevelopmental outcomes in children born after medically assisted reproduction compared with those of children born after spontaneous conception.


Systematic review.


Not applicable.


Children born after medically assisted reproduction vs. reference groups of spontaneously conceived children.


Data were reviewed from worldwide published articles, without restrictions as to publication year or language. A total of 80 studies included between 31 and 2,446,044 children.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Child neurodevelopmental outcomes categorized as cognitive, behavioral, emotional or psychomotor development, or diagnoses of mental disorders.


For infants, studies on psychomotor development showed no deficits, but few investigated cognitive or behavioral development. Studies on toddlers generally reported normal cognitive, behavioral, socio-emotional, and psychomotor development. For children in middle childhood, development seems comparable in children born after assisted reproduction and controls, although fewer studies have been conducted with follow-up to this age. Very few studies have assessed neurodevelopmental outcomes among teens, and the results are inconclusive. Studies investigating the risk of diagnoses of mental disorders are generally large, with long follow-up, but the results are inconsistent.


It may tentatively be concluded that the neurodevelopment of children born after fertility treatment is overall comparable to that in children born after spontaneous conception.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders.