Genetic health risks in children of assisted reproductive technology

Feb 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: Computational biologists simplify diagnosis for hereditary diseases

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Caesarean babies more likely to develop diabetes

Aug 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

Gene research targets scarring process

Jul 28, 2014

Scientists have identified three genes that may be the key to preventing scar formation after burn injury, and even healing existing scars.

Researchers find new mechanism for neurodegeneration

Jul 24, 2014

A research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Investigator Susan Ackerman, Ph.D., have pinpointed a surprising mechanism behind neurodegeneration in mice, one that involves a defect in a key component ...

User comments : 2

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