Differences in Early Growth Small for ART-Conceived Infants

Differences in early growth and adiposity among offspring appear to be small, attenuated by late adolescence

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MONDAY, Aug. 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Differences in early growth and adiposity between those conceived by artificial reproductive technology (ART) and natural conception (NC) seem to be small and may be attenuated by late adolescence, according to a study published online July 26 in JAMA Network Open.

Ahmed Elhakeem, Ph.D., from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the association between ART conception and offspring growth and adiposity from infancy to early adulthood in an analysis across 26 European, Asia-Pacific, and North American population-based cohort studies that included people born between 1984 and 2018. In each age-group meta-analysis, up to 158,066 offspring (4,329 conceived by ART) were included.

The researchers found that compared with NC offspring, those conceived via ART were shorter, lighter, and thinner from infancy to early adolescence, with the largest differences observed at the youngest ages and attenuating with increasing age. The adjusted mean differences (95 percent confidence intervals) in offspring weight were −0.27 (−0.39 to −0.16), −0.16 (−0.22 to −0.09), −0.07 (−0.10 to −0.04), and −0.02 (−0.15 to 0.12) standard deviation units at ages younger than 3 months, 17 to 23 months, 6 to 9 years, and 14 to 17 years, respectively. For body fat measurements, there were more marked differences; a difference showing greater adiposity among ART-conceived offspring at age 17 years or older was statistically nonsignificant.

"Our findings are reassuring since differences in early growth were small, although there is a need for additional follow-up and studies with larger numbers into older ages to investigate the possibility of greater adiposity in adulthood," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical, medical device, and nutrition industries.

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Physician’s Briefing Staff

Updated on September 21, 2022

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