The impact of assisted reproductive technology on prenatally diagnosed fetal growth restriction in dichorionic twin pregnancies

PLoS One. 2020 Apr 16;15(4):e0231028. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0231028. eCollection 2020.


Objective: Whether the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) affects the outcome of twin pregnancies is still a matter of debate. Previous studies have evaluated the association between birth weight and ART, without a clear distinction between fetal growth restriction (FGR), a condition at higher risk of adverse outcome, and constitutionally small for gestational age (SGA) fetuses. The aim of this study was to determine whether dichorionic (DC) twin pregnancies obtained by ART have a greater risk of developing FGR, defined by accurate ultrasound criteria, than those spontaneously conceived (SC), and to compare the severity of ultrasound features in the growth restricted fetuses.

Methods: A retrospective study was conducted on DC twin pregnancies delivered between 2010 to 2018 at a tertiary hospital. Twin pregnancies conceived spontaneously were compared with those obtained via in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), after exclusion of cases with major fetal or uterine malformations. The primary outcome was the incidence of FGR. Secondary outcome was the rate of SGA neonates, defined by a birth weight less than the 10th percentile. The ultrasound characteristics of the growth restricted fetuses in the two groups were also compared. The groups were compared using univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results: Six hundred and seventy-eight DC twin pregnancies were identified. Of these, 367 (54.1%) conceived via IVF/ICSI and 311 (45.9%) conceived spontaneously. The incidence of FGR was not significantly different between the ART and the SC groups (7.9% vs 8.4% respectively, p = 0.76, adjusted OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.53-1.32). Growth restricted fetuses of the two groups showed similar occurrence of an estimated fetal weight less than the 3rd percentile, similar abnormalities in Doppler studies and similar gestational age at diagnosis. There was no difference in the incidence of delivery of an SGA neonate (p = 0.47) or in the rate of maternal complications and preterm delivery between the groups.

Conclusions: Twin pregnancies conceived by assisted reproductive technologies do not have a higher risk of ultrasound-diagnosed FGR than spontaneously conceived twin pregnancies, and fetuses diagnosed with growth restriction in the two groups show similar severity of the ultrasound findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / adverse effects
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnosis
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / diagnostic imaging
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / epidemiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy, Twin*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic / adverse effects
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.