The number of babies born with the help of fertility treatments and methods grow each year.  Still, 30-40% of the babies born in the UK are a result of unplanned pregnancy. In a study published in the British Medical Journal online, children from unplanned pregnancies tend to have lesser vocabulary skills and poorer non-verbal and spatial abilities.  However, this can be justified by the deprived circumstances they were born into.  The study also indicated that infertility treatments have no negative effects on children.

It is believed that babies conceived through assisted reproduction are more likely to have poor health and genetic anomalies.  In addition, the risks are high for assisted reproduction babies to be born pre-term, have low birth weight and low mental scores.  The outcome of studies conducted with unplanned pregnancies does not fair better either.  Yet the study wasn’t extensive enough to successfully determine whether or not a child’s progress is connected to pregnancy planning.

Thus, a team of UK researchers started to conduct studies on how being prepared for pregnancy can directly influence a child’s cognitive formation at age 3 and age 5.  Other factors that were looked into include the time to conceive and infertility treatments.  About 12,000 children from the Millennium Cohort Study were the subjects of the research.  Researchers evaluated infants born in 2000-2002.  Interviews with the parents were done when the child was nine months old, then a follow up was made when the child reached 3 and another one at 5 years old.  The interview details whether the mothers were prepared for the pregnancy, how they felt about having a baby, the time it took to conceive and if they had used fertility drugs.  Using the British Ability Scales, each child’s verbal, non-verbal and spatial skills were studied at ages 3 and 5.

Preliminary findings confirmed that the babies from unplanned pregnancies were behind in verbal abilities by 4 to 5 months. On the other hand, the development of babies born using fertility treatment was 3 to 4 months ahead.  But the results showed little relevance when the researchers considered the socioeconomic status of each child.

It can be said that the difference lies in the socioeconomic aspects and situation of each child.  What the findings really show is the socioeconomic inequalities among children in the UK.  One aspect that lawmakers should concentrate on to help UK children attain their full capabilities.

Source: British Medical Journal. C. Carson, Y. Kelly, J. J. Kurinczuk, A. Sacker, M. Redshaw, M. A. Quigley. 27 July, 2011.