Parents born after assisted reproductive technologies have no increased risk of complications when they themselves become pregnant
The first girls born after assisted reproductive technologies in Norway have now conceived, and the first boys have become fathers. A new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health is the first in the world to have examined these pregnancies.
Since the first child was born after assisted reproductive technologies in Norway in 1984, over 50,000 children have been delivered using these techniques. Researchers at the Centre for Fertility and Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health have investigated whether the risk of pregnancy complications was higher in pregnancies of those who were themselves born after assisted reproductive technologies (ART).
"The good news from the study is that people born after assisted reproductive technologies had no more complications in their pregnancies compared to the control group. However, they may have their children a little later in life," says Ellen Øen Carlsen, PhD fellow at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. She is the lead author of the study, which was recently published in BMJ Medicine.
- Reproductive outcomes in women and men conceived by assisted reproductive technologies in Norway: prospective registry-based study
The results showed no significant differences in birth weight, duration of pregnancy, or risk of pregnancy-related conditions such as pre-eclampsia or Caesarean section. However, because the number of pregnancies among those conceived by assisted reproduction is still low, there is some uncertainty regarding the results.
Having children later in life
The study shows that women and men conceived through assisted reproductive technologies have fewer pregnancies to date than their peers who conceived naturally during the same period.
"Since their parents have had difficulty conceiving, it would not be surprising if their children also face challenges related to fertility," Carlsen points out.
The cohorts born from 1984 onwards are still relatively young and have not finished their reproductive windows, so researchers cannot conclude with certainty what the end result will be once they have stopped reproducing.
"We also see that some of the differences in fertility can be explained by the year they were born and the age of their own mother when she had children. This may indicate social rather than biological reasons for the differences," Carlsen continues.
Unique study in the world
Since it has long been known that pregnancies resulting from assisted reproductive technologies have an increased risk of various pregnancy complications, there has been great anticipation about the eventual fertility and pregnancies of people born after these techniques.
"Since it is relatively recent that the first generations who were conceived after assisted reproductive technologies have reached adulthood, it has not been possible to investigate this until now," says Carlsen.
The detailed registry of all births in Norway since 1967 is starting to give a good overview of several generations. Information about an individual's birth can be linked to any subsequent pregnancies/offspring as an adult.
"In general, the results of the study are good news for those who were conceived after assisted reproductive technologies. But we need to follow more cohorts and have larger numbers before we can draw finite conclusions," concludes Ellen Øen Carlsen.