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BACKGROUND: Accurate population-based data are needed on the incidence of cancer in children born after assisted conception. METHODS: We linked data on all children born in Britain between 1992 and 2008 after assisted conception without donor involvement with data from the United Kingdom National Registry of Childhood Tumours to determine the number of children in whom cancer developed before 15 years of age. Cohort cancer rates were compared with population-based rates in Britain over the same period, with stratification for potential mediating and moderating factors, including sex, age at diagnosis, birth weight, singleton versus multiple birth, parity, parental age, type of assisted conception, and cause of parental infertility. RESULTS: The cohort consisted of 106,013 children born after assisted conception (700,705 person-years of observation). The average duration of follow-up was 6.6 years. Overall, 108 cancers were identified, as compared with 109.7 expected cancers (standardized incidence ratio, 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.81 to 1.19; P=0.87). Assisted conception was not associated with an increased risk of leukemia, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, central nervous system tumors, or renal or germ-cell tumors. It was associated with an increased risk of hepatoblastoma (standardized incidence ratio, 3.64; 95% CI, 1.34 to 7.93; P=0.02; absolute excess risk, 6.21 cases per 1 million person-years) and rhabdomyosarcoma (standardized incidence ratio, 2.62; 95% CI, 1.26 to 4.82; P=0.02; absolute excess risk, 8.82 cases per 1 million person-years), with hepatoblastoma developing in 6 children and rhabdomyosarcoma in 10 children. The excess risk of hepatoblastoma was associated with low birth weight. CONCLUSIONS: There was no increase in the overall risk of cancer among British children born after assisted conception during the 17-year study period. Increased risks of hepatoblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma were detected, but the absolute risks were small. (Funded by Cancer Research UK and others.).

Original publication




Journal article


N Engl J Med

Publication Date





1819 - 1827


Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Female, Hepatoblastoma, Humans, Incidence, Infant, Liver Neoplasms, Male, Neoplasms, Reproductive Techniques, Assisted, Rhabdomyosarcoma, Risk, United Kingdom, Young Adult