The Genetics and Public Policy Centre at the Johns Hopkins University in the US has established an expert panel to examine whether there are any health effects on children born from assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). The panel is co-sponsored by the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
The aim of the study will be to assess current medical knowledge about the health and development of ART children and to make recommendations for future research priorities. The organisers say that over one million children have been born worldwide following ARTs, yet the effects of these procedures on the health and development of the resulting children remains unclear. Some reports have noted a possible link between children conceived through ART and certain clinical conditions, they add.
The ART Children's Health Panel will review existing scientific literature, with the aim to identify where current data conflicts or is inconclusive. The panel will look at the results of scientific and medical studies on the health of children born following IVF (in vitro fertilisation), ICSI (intra cytoplasmic sperm injection), embryo freezing and PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis). It will produce a report of its findings in autumn 2003.
The panel will consist of five members, leading experts in paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, epidemiology and genetics. Dr Kathy Hudson, director of the Johns Hopkins centre, said 'parents and healthcare providers need access to accurate information on the health and developmental risks associated with these technologies'. 'This study is intended to provide greater clarity on the safety and efficacy of IVF, the underlying technology that feeds all advanced reproductive techniques', added Dr Sandra Carson, president of the ASRM.