IVF-conceived children do not develop differently: Differences in height, weight and body frame disappear by adolescence, research shows.
- IVF children tend to be smaller, thinner and underweight in earlier age groups
- A study of 158,000 children found that these differences disappear after age 17
- Researchers at the University of Bristol say parents “need to be reassured”.
IVF babies do not become smaller than naturally born babies, a study said today.
Fertility experts have found differences in height, weight, or body size during adolescence.
A team from the University of Bristol is set to ‘convince’ parents with ‘significant work’.
IVF babies have no difference in height, weight or body shape to those born naturally, research from the University of Bristol has revealed today.
HOW DOES ECU WORK?
In vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, is a medical procedure in which a fertilized egg is inserted into a woman’s uterus to help her become pregnant.
It is used when couples are unable to conceive naturally, and sperm and eggs are removed from the body and combined in a laboratory before the embryo is implanted into the woman.
Once the embryo is in the uterus, the pregnancy should continue as normal.
The procedure can be done using eggs and sperm from the couple or donors.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that women under 43 who have been trying to conceive through unprotected sex for two years should be offered IVF on the NHS.
According to data published in January 2018, people can pay individually for IVF, which costs an average of £3,348 per cycle and there is no guarantee of success.
The NHS says success rates for women under 35 are around 29 per cent, with the chance of a successful cycle decreasing as they age.
Since the birth of British woman Louise Brown in 1978, it is estimated that around eight million babies have been born as a result of IVF.
chances of success
IV success rate F treatment depends on the age of the woman, as well as the cause of infertility (if it is known).
Young women are more likely to become pregnant.
IVF is not recommended for women over the age of 42, as the chances of a successful pregnancy are very low.
From 2014 to 2016, the percentage of IVF treatments that resulted in live births:
29 percent for women under 35
23 percent for women ages 35 to 37
15 percent for women ages 38 to 39
9 percent for women ages 40 to 42
3 percent for women ages 43 to 44
2 percent for women over 44
Lead author Dr Ahmed Elhakim, an epidemiologist, said: ‘One in 30 babies in the UK are born through assisted reproduction.
“So we expect, on average, one child per primary school to be born this way.
“Since IVF was first born, there have been concerns about the risks to children conceived through IVF.
“Parents and their children can be led to believe that this means they are slightly smaller and lighter from childhood to adolescence, but these differences have no health implications.”
The study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, followed more than 158,000 children into adulthood.
This includes about 2.5 percent who conceive through assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF.
They looked at height, weight and BMI data for naturally born children of different ages.
Their body fat percentage and waist circumference were also compared.
The children came from European countries, including the UK, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China and Singapore.
Statistical analysis shows that children under the age of three months are on average 0.27 cm shorter than children born naturally.
But the difference narrowed as they got older, with naturally born children growing on average by just 0.06cm by age 17.
A similar trend was observed for birth weight, with babies born 0.27 kg lighter on average if they were artificially conceived.
And as adults, they actually weighed 0.07 kg.
Despite having a lower BMI of 0.18 in infancy, the BMI of children born via fertility treatment was 0.09 points higher at age 17.
Peter Thompson, chief executive of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Agency (HFEA), said: ‘One in seven couples in Britain have difficulty conceiving, leading to around 53,000 patients having fertility treatment (IVF or donor insemination) a year.
“The results of this study will be a relief to patients who are starting treatment in the hope that one day they will have healthy children.
“The health outcomes of children born using assisted reproductive technologies are a high priority for the HFEA and we monitor the latest research and provide information for patients and professionals.
‘Those considering fertility treatment can access this and other high quality impartial information and UK licensed clinics at www.hfea.gov.uk.’
Women under 42 who are unable to conceive should be given three cycles of IVF on NHS guidelines.
But local health chiefs decide who can access funded treatment, leading to a ‘postal lottery’ across Britain.
Some trusts offer recommended cycles, others do not.
The Government’s long-awaited Women’s Health Strategy, announced last week, aims to reduce this imbalance and widen who can get it for free.