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Keywords:

  • child development;
  • infertility;
  • assisted reproduction;
  • time to pregnancy

Summary

Babies born of infertile couples, regardless of treatment, have a higher risk of preterm birth and low birthweight, conditions associated with delayed development. We examined developmental milestones in singletons as a function of parental infertility [time to pregnancy (TTP) > 12 months] and infertility treatment. From the Danish National Birth Cohort (1997–2003), we identified 37 897 singletons born of fertile couples (TTP ≤ 12 months), 4351 born of infertile couples conceiving naturally (TTP > 12 months), and 3309 born after infertility treatment. When the children were about 18 months old, mothers reported 12 developmental milestones by responding to structured questions. We defined a failure to achieve the assessed milestone or the minimal numbers of milestones in a summary (motor, or cognitive/language skills) as delay.

Naturally conceived children born of infertile couples had a pattern of psychomotor development similar to that of children born of fertile couples, but increasing TTP correlated with a modest delay. When the analysis was restricted to infertile couples (treated and untreated), children born after treatment showed a slight delay in cognitive/language development (odds ratio 1.24, [95% confidence interval 1.01, 1.53]) for not meeting at least three out of six cognitive/language milestones); children born after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) had the highest estimated relative risk of delay for most milestones, especially motor milestones. These results suggest that a long TTP may be associated with a modest developmental delay. Infertility treatment, especially ICSI, may be associated with a slight delay for some of these early milestones.