A large study looking at the effects of fertility treatment has found no robust difference in blood pressure, heart rate, lipids, and glucose measurements between children conceived naturally and those conceived using assisted reprofertility treatment leads to adverse cardiometabolic health in offspringductive technologies (ART).
The University of Bristol-led study, published in European Heart Journal today [6 February 2023] sought to address concerns around whether . The data sample included 8,600 children from Bristol’s Children of the 90s study, a world-leading health study which has followed pregnant women and their offspring since 1991.
Since the first birth of a child by in vitro fertilisation (IVF), questions have been raised about the health risks to children conceived this way, however previous studies are limited by small sample size, short follow-up, and unsatisfactory comparison groups.
The study, led by an international research group from the Assisted Reproductive Technology and Health (A.R.T-Health) Partnership, looked at data from 35,000 European, Singaporean, and Australian offspring. It was large enough to study whether conception by ART affected blood pressure, pulse rate, lipids or glucose from childhood to young adulthood (up to early 20s).
The researchers found that blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels were similar in children conceived using ART and their naturally conceived peers. The team also found that those who were conceived by ART had slightly higher cholesterol levels in childhood, which did not persist to adulthood, and some indication of slightly higher blood pressure in adulthood.
This is the largest study of its kind, and could not be conducted without data from studies such as Children of the 90s. 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. Studies with longer follow-up would now be beneficial to examine how results might change across adulthood.”
Dr Ahmed Elhakeem, Research Fellow in Epidemiology in Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences (PHS) at the University of Bristol, and Lead Study Author