Assisted Reproductive Technologies May Pose Heart Risks for Babies


Blood pressure levels were significantly higher in a group born with fertility treatments than in controls.

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Children born by assisted reproductive technologies may be at risk for high blood pressure in adolescence, Swiss researchers report.

Previous studies in both animals and humans have suggested that conception by assisted technology is associated with premature aging of the vascular system. One result of this may be hypertension.

A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology included 54 apparently healthy boys and girls, average age 16, who were conceived through fertility treatments. Researchers compared them with 43 naturally conceived controls matched for age and sex. The two groups were similar in birth weight, gestational age, body mass index, blood lipid levels, maternal smoking status, maternal cardiovascular risk profiles and other characteristics.

But average blood pressure was significantly higher in the assisted reproductive technology group than in the controls, and eight of the teenagers in the assisted technology group, compared with one in the control group, had blood pressure above 130/80, the 95th percentile for people of that age.

In 2016, 1.9 percent of the nearly four million babies born in the United States were conceived using assisted technologies.

“There’s no need for panic,” said the senior author, Dr. Emrush Rexhaj of the University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland. “But these kids may need more attention than others — measuring blood pressure after age 16 and really eliminating other risk factors: smoking, sedentary behavior, overweight. You can tolerate a little higher blood pressure in young people, but if it’s too high, you have to start therapy.”



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