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IVF does not impact cardiometabolic health of offspring

Melinda Van Kerckvoorde

Progress Educational Trust

13 February 2023

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[BioNews, London]

An international multi-cohort study shows that people conceived using IVF and ICSI have no significant differences in cardiometabolic health compared to naturally-conceived children.

Previous attempts to study the potential adverse consequences of fertility treatment on offspring health have been limited due to poor sample size, short follow up or relatedness between comparison groups. Now 14 cohort studies of children born since 1982 have been analysed to compare cardiometabolic health outcomes between children conceived via IVF or ICSI, and naturally-conceived children at different ages.

'This is the largest study of its kind and could not be conducted without data from studies such as Children of the 90s,' said Dr Ahmed Elhakeem, author of the study and research fellow in epidemiology at the University of Bristol medical school. 'Parents conceiving or hoping to conceive through assisted reproductive technology and their offspring should be reassured that cardiometabolic health appears to be comparable in ART-conceived and naturally-conceived children.'

The meta-analysis, published in European Heart Journal, selected 14 population-based birth cohorts with a low prevalence of relatedness and examined differences in blood pressure, heart rate, lipids and glucose in children conceived naturally and those conceived using fertility treatment. One of the cohorts was the UK's Children of the 90s study, which has followed over 14,000 pregnant women from the Avon region since 1991.

From a total of 35,938 individuals included in this study, 654 were conceived using IVF or ICSI and most were children below 10 years of age, though some cohorts included data for offspring born from 1982 onwards. No statistical differences were found in blood pressure or heart rate between naturally-conceived children and those conceived via fertility treatment. Biomarker levels such as lipids, glucose and insulin resistance markers were also similar in both groups.

Additionally, the study analysed the change in cardiometabolic outcomes for offspring from the ages of 2-26 years using data taken at different time points from over 17 000 individuals. As a result, the researchers found a predicted increase in systolic blood pressure and lipids in young adulthood, although most differences were not statistically significant. Furthermore, cholesterol levels were found to be significantly higher in children conceived using fertility treatment but these did not persist to adulthood.

According to Peter Thompson, chief executive at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which acts as the UK fertility sector's regulator: '60,000 patients using fertility services in the UK each year in the hope of one day having a family of their own should be reassured by this study which shows that the heart health of children born from assisted reproduction technologies, like IVF, are no different from children conceived naturally.'

Sources and References

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 13 February 2023   Date Updated: 13 February 2023
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