It can be immensely stressful and hugely challenging for a couple to go through a period of infertility when they want a child so badly. It can feel like they will never be able to conceive a child and that they will not be able to make their dreams of having a family come true. Fertility drugs like Clomid or other hormone drugs may seem like the perfect solution to the challenge of infertility.
There was a 2012 study that showed that the use of Clomid could be linked to a higher likelihood that the child conceived will get childhood leukemia. Headlines across the internet screamed “Fertility Drugs More than Double Chance of Leukemia.” That is a scary thing for a woman contemplating Clomid therapy to read. So what is the best way to approach this?
This study concluded that kids conceived to parents using certain hormone drugs for infertility were 2.6 times more likely than kids conceived without such drugs, to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL); the most common type of childhood leukemia. The bad news keeps coming; there is an increase by 2.3 times in the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This is rough stuff. Leukemia is one of the scariest diagnoses a parent can hear for his or her child, and the thought that a parent could be doing something that would increase that chance is almost unbearable.
So where does that leave you, a couple trying to conceive a child and worried about using Clomid? As with everything else, it is up to you. As a parent (or a parent-to-be), you will likely encounter all sorts of things that will be linked with different cancers and diseases in retrospect.
There is a 2010 study that looked at a potential connection between fertility treatments and infant leukemia, which included the ALL diagnoses in infants. This study found no correlation or causation between the drugs and leukemia.
Between these two studies, it seems clear that more study is definitely needed in order to confidently state whether there is or is not a connection between Clomid and childhood leukemia. News websites love stories about childhood cancers, since they know these stories will be hugely popular, and will be clicked on by thousands of concerned parents.
In addition, to put these numbers into perspective, the chance of a child being diagnosed with childhood or infant leukemia is so small that for a child to have a risk of 2.6 times the normal risk is still extremely small. If you have a child who was conceived using Clomid, your best bet is to talk to your doctor about your concerns and about the potential risk your child faces.
If you have been infertile and are not sure about whether or not this should change your mind about using Clomid or hormone therapy, keep in mind that these drugs are still widely prescribed. Therefore, it seems clear that the medical community has not adopted the results of the 2012 study as a reason to stop prescribing these drugs. Each mother-to-be should make the decision for herself whether she will take on this potential risk for her child. There are risks inherent in every decision, and parenthood is a constant challenge to make the best decisions possible.