IVF ba­bies more likely to grow up over­weight, sci­en­tists warn

Scottish Daily Mail - - News -

From Vic­to­ria Allen Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent in Geneva

CHIL­DREN born through IVF are more likely to be over­weight, a study found.

Ex­perts re­vealed ‘test tube ba­bies’ have their genes al­tered, with those born through fer­til­ity treat­ment weigh­ing 1½lb more on av­er­age by the age of nine.

Start­ing out in a lab­o­ra­tory dish in­stead of their mother’s body may cause chil­dren to store up more fat – mean­ing they could be­come heav­ier even when they eat as much as their nat­u­rally con­ceived peers.

Lead re­searcher Dr Heleen Zand­stra, from Maas­tricht Univer­sity in the Nether­lands, said: ‘This is enough of a weight dif­fer­ence to be con­cern­ing, be­cause over­weight chil­dren are more likely to be­come over­weight adults. We think IVF chil­dren may be pre­dis­posed to car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems, in­clud­ing heart prob­lems, in later life. They may be pro­grammed wrongly by IVF to store food as fat through­out their lives.’

The study, pre­sented at the Euro­pean Society of Hu­man Re­pro­duc­tion and Em­bry­ol­ogy con­fer­ence in Geneva, looked at 136 chil­dren born through IVF in the Nether­lands. Those of av­er­age height, aged nine-and-a half, weighed 1½lb more than chil­dren of the same age and height – a dif­fer­ence of 2.1 per cent.

The hor­mones given to women to har­vest their eggs for IVF could cause their chil­dren to be over­weight, by chang­ing the way their cells be­have in the first days of life.

IVF ba­bies be­gin as an em­bryo grow­ing in a lab­o­ra­tory dish, with the Dutch team dis­cov­er­ing the dif­fer­ent chem­i­cals used may change the birth weight of chil­dren.

While this chem­i­cal soup is thought to make IVF chil­dren slightly smaller at birth, it could then lead to weight gain when they are older. Ex­plain­ing the phe­nom­e­non, Dr Zand­stra said: ‘Re­search has sug­gested these chem­i­cals cause IVF ba­bies to be born smaller. They might change the way the baby ab­sorbs nu­tri­ents, or how the pla­centa passes them on.

‘At an older age this may cause a child born smaller to store more food as fat, be­cause their body wants to make sure they get enough.’

Ev­i­dence is grow­ing IVF chil­dren may be big­ger. Ja­panese re­search pre­sented at the con­fer­ence also found they were taller at the age of six than those con­ceived nat­u­rally.

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