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The HFEA responds to new research showing link between frozen-thawed embryos and cancer

A new study of more than 8 million children in Nordic countries suggests the possibility that children born after use of a fertility procedure known as frozen-thawed embryo transfer may have a higher risk of cancer than children born through other means.

The paper, produced by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has been published in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine. It analyses medical data from children in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

In response to the paper, Rachel Cutting, Director of Compliance and Information, Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA), said:

“Our latest data shows there were 25,000 frozen embryo transfers in a year in the UK. These findings should be interpreted with caution, as the number of children born after frozen-thawed embryo transfer in this study, who later developed cancer, was very low; 30.1 in 100,000 births.

“Health outcomes in children conceived using Assisted Reproductive Technology is a high priority for the HFEA and we provide high-quality information for patients and professionals using the new and emerging research we monitor. Anyone considering fertility treatment can access this, and other impartial information on fertility treatments and UK licenced clinics at”


Notes to editor:

About the HFEA

  • The HFEA is the UK’s independent regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos
  • Set up in 1990 by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, the HFEA is responsible for licensing, monitoring, and inspecting fertility clinics to ensure everyone accessing fertility treatment receive high quality care.
  • The HFEA is an ‘arm’s length body’ of the Department for Health and Social Care, working independently from Government providing free, clear, and impartial information about fertility treatment, clinics and egg, sperm and embryo donation
  • The HFEA collects and verifies data on all treatments that take place in UK licensed clinics which can support scientific developments and research and service planning and delivery.
  • Around 2,700 children in the UK are born each year through the help of a donor. The HFEA holds records of all donors and children born since 1991.
  • The HFEA is funded by licence fees, IVF treatment fees and a grant from UK central government. For more information visit,

Review date: 2 September 2024