Body composition in children and adolescents born after in vitro fertilization or spontaneous conception

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Sep;92(9):3417-23. doi: 10.1210/jc.2006-2896. Epub 2007 Jun 26.


Context: Increasing evidence suggests that adverse conditions during prenatal life are associated with the development of chronic diseases in adult life. It is still unclear whether in vitro fertilization (IVF) conception could affect the vulnerable developmental processes in humans occurring during early prenatal development with long-term perturbations of developmental pathways.

Objective: Our objective was to examine body composition in 8- to 18-yr-old IVF singletons and spontaneously conceived controls born from subfertile parents.

Design and setting: This follow-up study was conducted at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Participants: Participants included 233 IVF children (139 pubertal children) and 233 age- and gender-matched control children (143 pubertal children).

Main outcome measures: Body composition measures were assessed by anthropometry and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry in the pubertal subpopulation.

Results: IVF children had a significantly lower subscapular-triceps skinfold ratio and a significantly higher sum of peripheral skinfolds, peripheral body mass, and percentage of peripheral body fat as compared with controls. Although not reaching statistical significance, both dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and skinfold measurements suggested that total body fat in IVF children is increased. Neither current and early risk factors nor parental factors, such as subfertility cause, could explain the differences in peripheral fat assessed by anthropometry between IVF children and controls. No differences in bone mineral composition between IVF children and controls were found.

Conclusions: Our observations indicate that body fat composition in IVF children is disturbed. Follow-up of IVF children to monitor body fat pattern and potentially related health problems from adolescence into adulthood is of great importance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms
  • Body Composition*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fertilization / physiology*
  • Fertilization in Vitro*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies