In Vitro Kids More Advanced, But is it Nature or Nurture?

Filed under: Research Reveals

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British researchers have found children conceived through in vitro fertilization start school with verbal skills eight months more advanced than those born through unplanned pregnancies.

It has nothing to do with biology, researchers at Oxford University tell the London Daily Telegraph. Rich and educated couples can afford in vitro fertilization more than poor couples, who are more prone to unplanned pregnancies.

That's why, researchers tell the Telegraph, their study found children who came as a surprise where at least five months behind other kids at age 5 and eight months behind the in vitro crowd.

There differences disappeared when family background was taken into account.

Dorothy Bishop, a professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford, tells ther paper the study shows how important it is to take social factors into account when looking at children's development.

"Children from unplanned pregnancies have lower scores on cognitive tests than those from planned pregnancies, but they are also much more likely to come from single parent, low income households," she says. "Once this is taken into account, there is no impact of an unplanned pregnancy on children's development."

Oxford researcher Claire Carson analyzed data on 12,136 children. She concluded the differences were explained by the "generally advantageous socioeconomic position" enjoyed by those born after fertility treatment.

Children born after unplanned pregnancies were more likely to have poor, young or less educated mothers, and to have less access to "books, puzzles, trips to library," Carson found.

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