Medical Assisted Reproduction, Low Birth Weight and Children Cognitive Development

Marco Cozzani , European University Institute
Siddartha Aradhya, Lund University
Alice Goisis, University College London

Medical assisted reproduction (MAR) conceptions have sharply increased in the last decades, but the possible consequences on children development are still uncertain. MAR children are at a higher risk of being born low birth weight (LBW), which raises concerns about their longer-term cognitive development. However, since parents who undergo MAR to conceive are, on average, from advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds which could compensate for the negative effects of being born LBW, whether this is the case remains an open empirical question. In this article, we compare MAR and naturally conceived children and investigate whether the consequences of being born LBW on cognitive development in childhood and adolescence differ between the two groups. We draw on the UK Millennium Cohort Study (waves 2-6), which contains a sample of MAR conceived children and detailed information on both their cognitive development (measured at ages 3,5,7,11 and 14) and family socio- demographic characteristics. In the unadjusted models, we find that MAR conceived children born LBW show higher cognitive ability scores than their naturally conceived counterparts (both LBW and normal birth weight) up to age 7, then this advantage disappears. When we account for socio-demographic family characteristics, these differences are fully attenuated.

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 Presented in Session 85. Early Life Conditions and Health