Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics

, Volume 31, Issue 8, pp 947–958 | Cite as

Birth defects and congenital health risks in children conceived through assisted reproduction technology (ART): a meeting report

Meeting Report

Abstract

Purpose

Assisted Reproduction Treatment (ART) is here to stay. This review addresses the parental background of birth defects, before, during and after conception and focuses both on the underlying subfertility and on the question whether ART as a treatment is an additional contributing factor.

Methods

Searches were performed in Medline and other databases. Summaries were discussed in a Delphi panel set-up by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).

Results

Several birth defects and adult diseases arise during the earliest stages of ovarian development and oocyte differentiation: this is the case of cleft palate disorders in offspring from female rat exposed to Dioxin during fetal life or the polycystic ovary diseases in female offspring (primates) exposed to elevated androgen concentration during fetal life. Human oocytes and embryos often fail to stop the propagation of aneuploid cells but maintain their ability to repair DNA damages including those introduced by the fertilizing sperm. There is a 29 % increased risk of birth defects in the newborns spontaneously conceived by subfertile couples and the risk is further increased (34 %) when conception is achieved by treating infertlity with ART (Danish IVF Registry). Periconceptional conditions are critical for ART babies: their birth weight is in general smaller (Norvegian Registry) but a more prolonged culture time doubled the number of large babies (Finnish Registry).

Conclusion

The long-term developmental effects of ART on child and subsequent health as an adult remains a subject worthy of futher monitoring and investigation.

Keywords

Birth defects Malformations Congenital health risks Genetic diseases Epigenetic defects 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The secretarial assistance of Mrs Simonetta Vassallo is gratefully acknowledged.

Funding statement

The meeting was organized by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology with an unrestricted educational grant from Institut Biochimique S.A. (Switzerland).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scientific Direction, IRCCS Ca’ Granda Foundation Maggiore Policlinico HospitalMilanItaly

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