Objective The numbers of children conceived by assisted reproduction are increasing. Studies investigating not only physical but also mental health in these children have yielded contradictory results. Most studies of psychosocial development found no significant differences from naturally conceived children. However, some preliminary results demonstrated tendencies to emotional symptoms.
Methods 34 intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and 35 in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) singletons, born after at least 34 weeks gestation and without significant perinatal complications (n = 69) participated in the study. From the 41 5-year-olds and the 28 10-year-olds, 31 were boys and 38 were girls. Their mental health status was investigated by the diagnostic interview for psychopathological symptoms, DIPS child version and by the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) parent report.
Results According to clinical assessment, psychiatric disorders were apparent in 24.6% of subjects. In addition, a subclinical level of psychopathological symptoms was found in 15.9%. Overall, 40.5% of children showed signs of mental health problems. The most prevalent disorders were enuresis (7 manifest, 1 subclinical), hyperactivity and attention problems (2 attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)/attention deficit disorder, 8 subclinical ADHD) and social phobia (2 manifest, 2 subclinical). On the total difficulties score of the SDQ, parents reported abnormally high scores in 13% and elevated scores at borderline level in 2.9%.
Conclusions High rates of mental disorders appeared in the clinical assessment. Parents reported behavioural and emotional symptoms on a similar level as in a recent German child health survey study. A significant discrepancy between prevalence rates determined by clinical assessment and parent reports has to be considered, suggesting underreporting of symptoms by the parents.
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