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Trouble conceiving could lead to mental illness in children: Study

Written by: WENN.COM
Jul. 2, 2014

(Fotolia)


Women who battle fertility problems are more likely to give birth to children who develop psychiatric disorders than those born to healthier mothers, research suggests.

Higher rates of mental health problems – ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia and autism – were found by doctors in children whose mothers had struggled to fall pregnant. The scientists were unable to explain the link, but said genetic faults in the mother were more likely to be the cause than any issue with the fertility treatment they received.

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Allan Jensen, and epidemiologist at the University of Copenhagen, says, "The exact mechanism behind the observed increase in risk are still unknown but it is generally believed that underlying infertility has a more important role in adverse effects in offspring than the treatment procedures."

One possible explanation is that genetic faults that cause psychiatric diseases are more common in women with fertility problems, with Jensen adding, "If transferred to their offspring, this may at least partly explain the increased risk of psychiatric diseases."

The Danish team behind the study relied on a database linking patient records which allowed them to study the medical histories of parents and their children. After searching for all children born in Denmark between 1969 and 2006 and finding 2.4 million results, the scientists separated them into 124,000 (5%) born to women with registered fertility problems, and 2.3 million (95%) whose mothers had no such issue.

They found that, after following the children's medical histories for around 20 years, that woman with fertility problems had a 33% higher chance of psychiatric disorders. The children had a 27% higher chance of schizophrenia and psychoses, 37% higher risk of anxiety and a 22% higher risk of mental developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorders.

 

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