Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the most widely used treatment for infertility and has resulted in millions of births worldwide. The safety of the offspring has been of the utmost concern. Previous studies suggested an increase in metabolic disorders in offspring later in life. The aim of the present study was to investigate metabolic changes at age 6–10 years in offspring conceived as a result of in vitro fertilisation/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF/ICSI).
A total of 380 children born from IVF/ICSI and a matched control group of 380 naturally conceived children, all aged 6–10 years, were recruited. Anthropometric measures, ultrasound and serum tests were performed for body mass, glucose metabolism and lipid profiles, and examination of vasculature structure.
The children conceived by ART showed significantly higher fasting blood glucose and serum insulin levels and HOMA-IR (adjusted β [95% CI]: fasting blood glucose 0.49 [0.42, 0.55]; loge-transformed insulin 0.28 [0.20, 0.35]; loge-transformed HOMA-IR 0.38 [0.30, 0.46]), as well as a lower HOMA-B and serum apolipoprotein A (ApoA) levels (adjusted β [95% CI]: loge-transformed HOMA-B −0.19 [−0.27, −0.11]; ApoA −0.17 [−0.21, −0.13]), when compared with the control group. Furthermore, the ultrasound scan indicated elevated carotid intima–media thickness in children conceived by ART (β 0.13 [95% CI 0.12, 0.13]).
Children conceived by IVF/ICSI have a less favourable glucose and cardiovascular metabolic profile in childhood when compared with naturally conceived children. The underlying mechanisms and potential long-term consequences need to be elucidated in future studies.