Louise Brown, the first baby born through in vitro fertilization, will be 32 years old this year, and most people born through IVF are under 30 years old. Although this technology has become a common phenomenon for future parents who are plagued by fertility problems, doctors point out that the long-term effects of the program remain uncertain. Now, some scientists say they see subtle differences in the DNA expression of people born by in vitro fertilization (IVF), and that they may have a higher risk of developing cancer or diabetes later in life.
The principal investigator, Carmen Sapienza, said: “In general, these children are good, but unlike them they have extra arms or extra heads, they have little risk of adverse consequences” [Guardian]. Instead, the team found a very subtle impact. In 75 babies with IVF and 100 naturally born babies, they examined 700 genes of particular interest to researchers because they are associated with the development of fat cells, insulin signals and other disease-related functions as they get older. Growth, people tend to be more risky. The scientists examined DNA methylation, a modification of DNA that affects gene expression, and found that 5% to 10% of infants with IVF have abnormal methylation patterns.
Sapienza’s team published the study on human molecular genetics in October, but his work drew people’s attention after his speech at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.
It is important to study the health predictions of infants with IVF because their birth weight is often lower than that of babies born in the traditional way. This can be problematic because babies with low birth weight often have long-term health problems. They are more likely to be obese, have diabetes and have high blood pressure at the age of 50, such as [ScienceNOW]. And because people who have not had in vitro fertilization are over 31, there is no data to predict what health patterns they will have as they get older.
Sapienza is aware of the strong reaction of parents of children fertilized in vitro, emphasizing that this work is not an attack on IVF or any evidence that babies with IVF are more insane than others with age. However, he said the questions should be asked. He said that if the results show that children who are pregnant with IVF have an increased risk of colon cancer, it is useful to tell them that they should examine it before [ScienceNOW].
However, one researcher has publicly focused on the overuse of a specific type of IVF called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This is one of its creators, Andre Van Steirteghem. In a speech at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Van IAirteghem warned that his creations were overused and became the primary IVF method in many hospitals. He said that it should not be used when IVF technology is sufficient: “We must see what will happen in the future, and long-term follow-up is very important, but ICSI has been overused” [The Telegraph]. ICSI makes it possible for men who generally can not get pregnant to get pregnant, but the risk of health problems is slightly higher than conventional in vitro fertilization.