Genetic health risks in children of assisted reproductive technology

February 21, 2010

More than three million children have been born as a result of assisted reproductive technologies since the birth of the first "test tube baby" in 1978. While the majority of these children are healthy and normal, as a group they are at greater risk of certain kinds of birth defects and being low birth weight, which is associated with obesity, hypertension and type 2 diabetes later in life.

Carmen Sapienza, a geneticist at Temple University School of Medicine, studies the impact of the environment on by comparing one type of chromosome modification, called "DNA methylation" between children conceived in the traditional fashion with children born as a result of assisted reproduction.

"We found that 5-10 percent of these chromosome modifications were different in children born through assisted reproduction, and this altered the expression of nearby genes," he said. "But we have not yet distinguished whether this is caused by assisted reproductive technologies or other factors such as the couple's infertility."

Because some of the affected genes are involved in the development of fat tissue and the metabolism of glucose, Sapienza believes it will be important to monitor these children long-term to determine whether they have higher rates of obesity or diabetes.

He notes that even though there were measurable differences in DNA methylation and between the two groups, only a small fraction of the assisted reproduction children were found to be outside the "normal" range.

Explore further: Maternal obesity prior to pregnancy associated with birth defects

Related Stories

Caesarean babies more likely to develop diabetes

August 26, 2008

Babies delivered by Caesarean section have a 20 per cent higher risk than normal deliveries of developing the most common type of diabetes in childhood, according to a study led by Queen's University Belfast.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JerryPark
not rated yet Feb 21, 2010
I wonder when anyone will study the reproductive capacity of test tube babies and what the studies will reveal.
campbell22
not rated yet Feb 22, 2010


Pre prandial - 90 to 130 mg/dL = No Diabetes

post prandial - Less than 180 mg/dL = No Diabetes

Get a free glucose meter and a copy of diabetic cookbook from http://bit.ly/cW4UmC

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.