Mental Illness and Infertility
I read about the study in a few places this morning: researchers in Copenhagen had concluded that children born via IVF are 33% more likely to be diagnosed with mental illness either in childhood or adulthood. And lest you think that it is tied to IVF itself, the Telegraph (or researchers?) were careful to conclude that even though they only researched women who did IVF, they know that “It is not fertility procedures that are to blame but rather mothers who struggle to get pregnant are passing down faulty genes to their offspring.”
Though, in a moment of scientific paradox, the researcher also concluded in the very same article that “the study could not establish if the increased risk was associated to the mother’s infertility whether genetic or biological or to treatment.”
It’s your fault.
But it’s not!
But it is!
I hesitate to ever comment on these sorts of studies or these sorts of articles because… they’re both somewhat worthless. (One more than the other.) The study itself obviously is just a starting ground, and until another study is conducted that looks at all children born to infertile women — those conceived via IVF, those conceived via other fertility treatments such as IUI, those conceived without assistance after several failed IVF cycles, etc — it perhaps isn’t worth reporting on at all outside of the fertility medical community.
Which brings us to the media coverage: it isn’t worth reporting on an incomplete study unless your sole purpose is to foment a community. I mean, how are these emphatic titles helpful to furthering our understanding of medical information?
- Children conceived through fertility treatment more likely to have mental health issues (Well, no, we don’t know if it is through treatments or if it is due to infertility itself, in which it’s possible that conceiving any method with infertility puts your child at greater risk)
- IVF babies face greater risk of mental illness (This one goes even farther to blame IVF itself. Despite leading with this sentence: “The results suggest the risk was related to the mother’s genes rather than any fertility treatments such as IVF, warning that genes which could cause psychiatric diseases may be more common in women with fertility problems.”)
- Children ‘at greater risk of mental illness’ if born to women with fertility problems, research claims (Well, no, research doesn’t claim that. The media claims that. Let’s attribute this correctly.)
It is difficult enough to get through infertility. It is difficult enough to get through a mental illness diagnosis in your child after infertility. Do we really need to compound the issue with shoddy reporting that is repeated ad nauseam across the Internet as people glom onto the sensationalized headlines?
Where is the study on how that affects the emotional health of infertile women?
but then it would follow if it was tied to the IF that all children, even IUI etc or those conceived naturally after 10 years would also be 33% more.