The longer-term health outcomes for children born as a result of IVF treatment: Part I--General health outcomes

Hum Reprod Update. 2013 May-Jun;19(3):232-43. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dms062. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


BACKGROUND Several million children have been born from in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, but limited data exist regarding their health and development beyond the first year of life. It has been alleged that IVF may lead to long-term adverse consequences, in addition to the documented worse perinatal outcome and increased risk of congenital abnormalities in children born resulting from IVF treatment. METHODS A search strategy restricted to studies relating to the medical condition of children of at least 1 year of age born as a result of IVF treatment was performed to include case series, data linkage and prospective studies published 1 January 2000-1 April 2012. RESULTS Limited long-term follow-up data suggest that there is potentially an increase in the incidence of raised blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose, increase in total body fat composition, advancement of bone age and potentially subclinical thyroid disorder in the IVF offspring. Whether these potential associations are related to the IVF treatment per se, the adverse obstetric outcomes associated with IVF treatment or are related to the genetic origin of the children is yet to be determined. CONCLUSIONS This review provides evidence to suggest that the short-term health outcome for children born from IVF treatment is positive. However, it is expected that the cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors found in childhood and tracking into adulthood could be worse in later life, and may be responsible for chronic cardiometabolic disease. These observations need to be addressed by further studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / adverse effects*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid Diseases / epidemiology