Effects of pregnancy planning, fertility, and assisted reproductive treatment on child behavioral problems at 5 and 7 years: evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

February 15, 2013


Objective: To examine the effects of pregnancy planning, time to conception (TTC), and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) on child behavior.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Not applicable.
Patient(s): A total of 12,380 singletons recruited at 9 months and followed-up at 5 and 7 years. Conceptions were divided into "unplanned" (unplanned, unhappy), "mistimed" (unplanned, happy), "planned" (planned, TTC < 12 months), "subfertile" (planned, TTC >= 12 months), "ovulation induced" (received clomiphene citrate), and "ART" (IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
Intervention(s): None.
Main Outcome Measure(s): Child behavior (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire [SDQ]).
Result(s): Mistimed and unplanned children had higher average SDQ scores at age 5 and 7 years and were significantly more likely to have a clinically relevant behavioral problem compared with the planned group. The ART children had significantly higher average SDQ scores at both 5 and 7 years compared with the planned group. An increase in clinically relevant behavioral problems was observed at 5 years (odds ratio 2.05 [95% confidence interval 0.96, 4.42]) but failed to reach statistical significance. No effects were observed in the subfertile and ovulation-induced groups.
Conclusion(s): Unplanned and mistimed children exhibit more behavioral problems than their planned peers. Though ART children have higher mean total difficulties scores, this did not translate into a statistically significant increase in clinically relevant behavioral problems. (Fertil Steril (R) 2013; 99: 456-63. (C) 2013 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)

Published in

Fertility and Sterility

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 99 , p.456 -463







Not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only



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