Foetal thymus size in pregnancies after assisted reproductive technologies
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The aim of our study was to compare thymus sizes in foetuses conceived using assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to those conceived naturally (control group).
Sonographic foetal thymus size was assessed retrospectively in 162 pregnancies conceived using ART and in 774 pregnancies conceived naturally. The anteroposterior thymic and the intrathoracic mediastinal diameter were measured to calculate the thymic–thoracic ratio (TT-ratio). The ART cases were subdivided into two groups: (1) intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI; n = 109) and (2) in vitro fertilisation (IVF; n = 53).
The TT-ratio was smaller in pregnancies conceived using ART (p < 0.001). In both ART subgroups (ICSI and IVF), the TT-ratio was lower compared to the control group (p < 0.001). However, no difference between the two subgroups could be detected (p = 0.203).
Our data show reduced thymus size in foetuses conceived using ART compared to controls. These findings indicate that the use of ART may lead to certain deviations in organogenesis.
KeywordsIn vitro fertilisation Intracytoplasmic sperm injection Ultrasound Thymus Foetal diagnosis Prenatal ultrasonography Pregnancy
We thank everyone who voluntarily dedicated their time and effort.
TGN: data collection, data management, data analysis and manuscript writing. KOM: data collection and manuscript editing. MM: data collection and manuscript editing. JB: data collection and manuscript editing. REA: manuscript editing. JS: data collection and manuscript editing. WK: data collection and manuscript editing. MB: statistics and manuscript editing. RS: project construction, data collection and manuscript revision.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Our study was planned in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The institutional review board approved this study and required neither patient approval nor informed consent for our retrospective analysis of data that were obtained using a standard of care clinical protocol.
Human and animal rights
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
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