Bioethics News

Recent findings. Children conceived through assisted reproduction, now adolescents, have more medical problems

These recent findings should be taken into consideration when making an ethical assessment of assisted reproduction.

An issue that often arises is whether children conceived through assisted reproductive technique – ART (see HERE) present more medical and/or mental health problems when they reach adolescence than those conceived naturally. A recent study (see Abstract) that evaluated the development of 253 adolescents conceived using assisted reproductive techniques compared to a similar group of adolescents conceived naturally found that “no differences were detected in general and mental health of ART adolescents or cognitive ability, compared with the reference group.” However, “follow-up […] revealed that male ART adolescents had significantly more doctor’s appointments compared with the reference group.” Nonetheless, the authors point out that further studies with larger cohorts are needed to confirm these results.

Findings detect a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and higher blood pressure

In a second study, also published in Fertility and Sterility, more metabolic and cardiovascular disorders were detected in children conceived by ART. This systematic review and meta-analysis examined 19 studies that included 2,112 ART-conceived and 4,096 naturally-conceived children, who were followed to adulthood. It found that the blood pressure of those conceived by ART was statistically higher than those conceived naturally. Furthermore, the cardiac diastolic function was suboptimal and blood vessel thickness was higher.

Conclusion

The authors conclude that their findings suggest a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in children conceived by ART, which calls for further research to be able to corroborate these data.

There is no doubt that these findings should be taken into consideration when making an ethical assessment of assisted reproduction.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.