Children born through in vitro fertilization have significantly higher BP and triglyceride levels.


TORONTO—Children who are conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be at increased risk of early metabolic syndrome, according to researchers in Greece.

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They studied 106 children born through IVF (48 boys and 58 girls) and compared them with 68 controls born after normal conception (33 boys and 35 girls). All were aged 4 to 14 years. The researchers measured their height, weight, BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, and BP. Morning blood was drawn after 12 hours of fasting to determine levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, uric acid, and fasting glucose/insulin ratio (FGIR).


Children born through IVF had significantly higher systolic and diastolic BP and higher triglyceride levels than the controls, although the elevated levels were within the normal range, according to investigators. No significant differences were found in fasting glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, uric acid, or FGIR.


Sophia Sakka, MD, one of the researchers, said the increase in BP and triglycerides concentrations, which are early markers of the metabolic syndrome, should raise the suspicion of an early occurrence of the syndrome in IVF children.


“It is important to know whether there is a tendency toward the metabolic syndrome so that these children can adopt a healthier lifestyle early on to minimize their possible risk factors,” said Dr. Sakka, a fellow in the pediatrics department of the division of endocrinology at Athens University Medical School. She presented findings here at the 89th annual meeting of The Endocrine Society.


It is common for mothers of children conceived through IVF to experience anxiety and stress during their pregnancy, Dr. Sakka pointed out. Maternal stress has been associated with smaller birth weight and a higher risk of metabolic syndrome in the offspring. In addition, IVF children have a considerably higher risk of being born prematurely and with a lower birth weight compared with naturally conceived children.


Features of the metabolic syndrome include high BP, abdominal obesity, high fasting blood glucose levels and high levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. The presence of at least three of these features constitutes the diagnosis, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.