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Trouble Conceiving Linked to Neurological Problems in Children

Update Date: Mar 26, 2013 01:03 PM EDT

Women who experience difficulties getting pregnant are 30 percent more likely to give birth to children with "mild" neurological problems, according to a new study.

Dutch researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that impaired fertility in the women is mainly caused by an endocrine dysfunction, which can be reversed if treated early. However, attempt to improve fertility with methods like in vitro fertilization, can actually adversely affect babies by causing problems like premature birth and abnormal muscle growth.

Previous studies show that children conceived with the help of fertility treatment are often at a higher risk of premature birth ad low birth rate. Researchers said the latest findings might help explain why children born after fertility treatment are significantly more likely to suffer developmental problems.

Researchers say the latest findings suggest that poor fertility, not IVF, may be largely responsible for developmental problems in children born after fertility treatments.

Researchers studied the neurological development of 209 children whose parents experienced difficulties conceiving.  Researchers said that the study only included parents who failed to conceive after one year, and most have undergone fertility treatments.

The results revealed that 17 children or 8 percent of kids in the study had mild neurological problems.  Researchers found that neurological problems were significantly more common in children whose parents had taken longer to conceive.  The study found that taking longer to become pregnant led to a 30 percent increased risk of giving birth to a child with mild neurodevelopmental problems.

Researchers assessed movement, posture, muscle tone, reflexes and eye-hand coordination in children.  They also looked at parents' ages.

They found that on average, parents in the study took around four years before they became pregnant, but ranged from 1.6 years to a little over 13 years.

However, parents whose children did not have neurological problems took an average of two years and 8 months to get pregnant.

The findings are published online in the March 25 issue of Fetal & Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood.

"In conclusion, the present data suggest that increased time to pregnancy is associated with suboptimal neurological development," researchers wrote in the study. "This implies that factors associated with subfertility may play a role in the genesis of neurodevelopmental problems."

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