MILLIONS of women around the world are turning to IVF to fall pregnant, but a new study has found these "test tube" babies are more likely to develop cancer later in life.
From 1991 until 2013, researchers from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev examined 242,187 newborn babies until they were 18, to see whether there was an association between fertility treatments and "malignancies".
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology , found this connection "remained significant".
"Children conceived after fertility treatments are at an increased risk for paediatric neoplasms [abnormal tissue growth associated with cancer]," the study concluded.
Most of the babies involved in the study (98.3 per cent) were conceived spontaneously while 1.1 per cent were conceived via IVF and the other 0.7 per cent were conceived via ovulation induction treatments.
"During the follow-up period, 1498 neoplasms (0.6 per cent) were diagnosed," the study found.
"Incidence density rate for neoplasms was higher among children conceived either after IVF (1.5 in 1000 chance) or ovulation induction treatments (1.0 in 1000 chance), as compared with naturally conceived children (0.59 in 1000 chance)."
That means it's 2.5 times more likely that a child born through IVF will develop neoplasms, as opposed to a child conceived naturally.
The research was carried out in Israel, "where all fertility interventions, which include in vitro fertilisation and ovulation induction, are fully covered by insurance, enabling citizens of all backgrounds access to these treatments," said Professor Eyal Sheiner, who helped carry out the study.
"The research concludes that the association between IVF and total paediatric neoplasms and malignancies is significant," Prof. Sheiner said.
"With increasing numbers of offspring conceived after fertility treatments, it is important to follow up on their health."
In Australia, a single IVF cycle costs about $10,000, with a Medicare rebate.
But there is a hugely varied success rates among fertility clinics, which can range from four per cent to 30.9 per cent, according to a 2012 report from the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database (ANZARD).
Australia's IVF industry has recently come under fire from health experts warning women and families not to get sucked in by clinics who offer "add on" treatments with little scientific evidence supporting their success.
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