Babies born through IVF don’t develop differently: Study finds difference in height, weight and body structure disappears in their late teens
- IVF babies tend to be smaller, thinner and less heavy in the early age groups
- A study of 158,000 children found that these differences are gone by age 17
- Researchers from the University of Bristol said parents should be reassured
Today’s research claims that IVF doesn’t get any younger than babies born naturally.
Fertility experts have found differences in height, weight or body size normally even after they reach their late teens.
The Bristol University team claimed that parents should be “reassured” by “important work”.
Lead author Dr Ahmed Al-Hakim, an epidemiologist, said: “In the UK, more than 1 in 30 children are delivered by assisted reproduction.
So we would expect, on average, that one child in each grade of elementary school would have been given birth in this way.
Since the first birth of a child by IVF, concerns have been raised about the risks to children.
“Parents and their children can be reassured that this may mean that they are slightly smaller and lighter from childhood to adolescence, but that these differences are unlikely to have any health effects.”
A study conducted by the University of Bristol today claimed that IVF does not differ in height, weight or body structure from those born of a natural pregnancy.
How does IVF work?
In vitro fertilization, otherwise known as IVF, is a medical procedure in which an already fertilized egg is inserted into her uterus to become pregnant.
It is used when couples are unable to conceive naturally, and the sperm and egg are removed from their bodies and fused in a laboratory before the embryo is introduced into the woman.
Once the fetus is in the uterus, the pregnancy should continue as normal.
The procedure can be performed using eggs and sperm from a married couple or from donors.
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that IVF should be offered on the NHS to women under 43 who have attempted pregnancy through regular unprotected sex for two years.
People can also pay for IVF privately, which costs an average of £3,348 for a single cycle, according to figures published in January 2018, and there is no guarantee of success.
The NHS says success rates for women under 35 are around 29 per cent, with a successful cycle likely reducing as they age.
About eight million babies are believed to have been born through IVF since the first ever case, British woman Louise Brown, was born in 1978.
chances of success
The success rate of IVF depends on the age of the woman undergoing treatment, as well as the cause of the infertility (if known).
Younger women are more likely to have a successful pregnancy.
IVF is not usually recommended for women over the age of 42 because the chances of a successful pregnancy are thought to be very low.
Between 2014 and 2016, the percentage of IVF treatments that resulted in a live birth was:
29% of women under 35
23% for women between 35 and 37 years old
15% for women between 38 and 39 years old
9 percent for women age 40 to 42
3 percent for women between 43 and 44 years old
2 percent for women over 44
The study, published in JAMA Network Open, tracked more than 158,000 children into adulthood.
It included nearly 2.5 percent of those who conceived through assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF.
They studied data on height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) in children born via natural conception or “assisted reproductive technology” at different ages.
Body fat percentage and waist circumference were also compared.
The children came from countries in Europe – including the UK – as well as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China and Singapore.
Statistical analysis showed that babies less than three months old were about 0.27 cm shorter, on average, than those born via a natural pregnancy.
But as they got older, the difference got smaller, with the naturally conceived children only 0.06cm taller by the time they were 17 years old, on average.
A similar weight trend was observed, with babies being born 0.27 kg lighter if conceived through artificial methods, on average.
However, in adulthood, their weight was actually 0.07 kg.
Children born through fertility treatment had a BMI of 0.09 points higher by the time they were 17 years old, despite having a lower BMI of 0.18 points.
Peter Thompson, chief executive of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said: “About one in seven couples in the UK have difficulty conceiving which results in around 53,000 patients a year receiving fertility treatment (IVF or donor insemination).
The results of this study will be a welcome relief for those patients who are beginning treatment with the hope that one day they will have healthy children.
Health outcomes for children conceived using assisted reproductive technology is a high priority for HFEA and we monitor the latest research and provide information to patients and professionals.
Anyone considering fertility treatment can access this and other high-quality, impartial information about UK licensed fertility treatments and clinics at www.hfea.gov.uk. “
Women under 42 who are struggling to get pregnant should be given three cycles of IVF according to NHS guidelines.
But local health chiefs are deciding who can get the funded treatment, leading to a ‘postal code lottery’ across Britain.
Some funds offer recommended courses, others do not.
The government’s long-awaited women’s health strategy published last week aims to reduce this imbalance, while expanding the range of who can get it for free.