Background: Little is known about post-natal growth in IVF offspring and the effects of rates of early post-natal growth on blood pressure and body fat composition during childhood and adolescence.
Methods: The follow-up study comprised 233 IVF children aged 8-18 years and 233 spontaneously conceived controls born to subfertile parents. Growth data from birth to 4 years of age, available for 392 children (n = 193 IVF, n = 199 control), were used to study early post-natal growth. Furthermore, early post-natal growth velocity (weight gain) was related to blood pressure and skinfold measurements at follow-up.
Results: We found significantly lower weight, height and BMI standard deviation scores (SDSs) at 3 months, and weight SDS at 6 months of age in IVF children compared with controls. Likewise, IVF children demonstrated a greater gain in weight SDS (P < 0.001), height SDS (P = 0.013) and BMI SDS (P = 0.029) during late infancy (3 months to 1 year) versus controls. Weight gain during early childhood (1-3 years) was related to blood pressure in IVF children (P = 0.014 systolic, 0.04 diastolic) but not in controls. Growth during late infancy was not related to skinfold thickness in IVF children, unlike controls (P = 0.002 peripheral sum, 0.003 total sum). Growth during early childhood was related to skinfold thickness in both IVF and controls (P = 0.005 and 0.01 peripheral sum and P = 0.003 and 0.005 total sum, respectively).
Conclusions: Late infancy growth velocity of IVF children was significantly higher compared with controls. Nevertheless, early childhood growth instead of infancy growth seemed to predict cardiovascular risk factors in IVF children. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and to follow-up growth and development of IVF children into adulthood.