Examining Infertility Treatment and Early Childhood Development in the Upstate KIDS Study

JAMA Pediatr. 2016 Mar;170(3):251-8. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.4164.


Importance: An increasing percentage of births are conceived with assisted reproductive technology (ART) and other infertility treatment. Despite findings that such treatments may be associated with diminished gestation and birth size, scarce data exist regarding infertility treatments and children's development in the United States.

Objective: To assess the use and type of infertility treatment in relation to children's development through age 36 months.

Design, setting, and participants: Prospective cohort study (conducted 2008-2014) that sampled based on infertility treatment and plurality. Included in the study were infants born between 2008 and 2010 in New York state (excluding New York City) whose parents completed developmental screening instruments through 36 months of age. A total of 4824 mothers (97% of 4989) completed 1 or more developmental screening instruments for 5841 children, including 1830 conceived with infertility treatment and 2074 twins.

Exposures: Maternal self-report of any infertility treatment was further categorized into ART and ovulation induction/intrauterine insemination. Assisted reproductive technology use was previously validated by linkage with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology-Clinical Outcome Reporting System.

Main outcomes and measures: Five developmental domains (fine motor, gross motor, communication, personal-social functioning, and problem-solving ability), as measured by the parental completion of the Ages and Stages Questionnaires at 4, 8, 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months of age. Generalized linear mixed modeling techniques estimated adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% CIs for use and type of infertility treatment in relation to failing a developmental domain. Data were stratified by plurality and weighted for the sampling scheme.

Results: There were 1422 mothers (29.5%; mean [SD], age, 34.1 [5.2] years) who underwent infertility treatment. Infertility treatment was not associated with risk of their children failing any developmental domain (aOR, 1.33; 95% CI, 0.94-1.89). Assisted reproductive technology was associated with increased risk for failing any developmental domain but only when singletons and twins were evaluated together (aOR, 1.81; 95% CI, 1.21-2.72). Adjustment for birth weight further attenuated this estimate (aOR, 1.26; 95% CI, 0.82-1.93). After stratifying by plurality, type of treatment also was not significantly associated with failing any developmental domain for ovulation induction/intrauterine insemination (aOR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.57-1.77 for singletons and aOR, 1.30; 95% CI, 0.76-2.21 for twins) or ART (aOR, 1.38; 95% CI, 0.78-2.43 for singletons and aOR, 1.58; 95% CI, 0.94-2.65 for twins).

Conclusions and relevance: After considering plurality, children's development through age 3 years was similar irrespective of infertility treatment or specific type. To our knowledge, these findings are among the first to focus on non-ART treatments in the United States.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • New York
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / adverse effects*
  • Self Report
  • United States