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Children born by assisted reproduction have a higher cardiovascular risk according to a Catalan study

According to a medical study developed in Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic, fetuses conceived by assisted reproduction have changes in their heart and arteries, which begin even before birth and persist in the postnatal period. These changes represent a significant increase in cardiovascular risk in adulthood. However, the researchers point out that this situation is reversible from the beginning of life through a diet rich in omega3 and other factors. In addition, they strongly emphasised that this is only a risk factor and not a disease. The study leader, Eduard Gratacós, said that “it's a message of opportunity, not alarm”. Furthermore, they also recommend monitoring the blood pressure of these babies.

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18 September 2013 10:48 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN). – According to a medical study developed in Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic, fetuses conceived by assisted reproduction have changes in their heart and arteries, which begin even before birth and persist in the postnatal period. These changes represent a significant increase in cardiovascular risk in adulthood. However, the researchers point out that this situation is reversible from the beginning of life through a diet rich in omega3 and other factors. In addition, they strongly emphasised that this is only a risk factor and not a disease. The study leader, Eduard Gratacós, said that “it's a message of opportunity, not alarm”. Furthermore, they also recommend monitoring the blood pressure of these babies.


“We are talking about cardiovascular risk, not disease. It does not mean that these children are sick – not at all! However they have a cardiovascular risk factor, like children with obesity or diabetes”, explained Gratacós in the presentation of the study on Wednesday in Barcelona.

Research conducted entirely in Barcelona has found that fetuses conceived by assisted reproduction (AR) have changes in their heart and arteries, which begin even before birth. These changes are similar to those of children with diabetes and severe obesity, which represent a significant increase in cardiovascular risk in adulthood.

The risk is not due to reproduction techniques but to infertility factors

The researchers explained that the risk is not because of the reproduction techniques used, but because of the higher rate of pregnancy complications and the factors associated with infertility.

The study found that children conceived through assisted reproduction have a wider heart and larger atria. In addition, the walls of the arteries are also thicker and therefore more rigid. This makes blood circulate with higher pressure and dilate the ventricles. The ventricles, in turn, due to the greater effort to pump blood to the arteries, eventually develop more muscle. All this means that between 40% and 60% of these children are at risk of suffering from a cardiovascular disease in the future.

Gratacós insisted that the study’s message is “positive” and that this situation can be detected at an early stage, which allows families to know about the risk and be able to do something about it. Thus, doctors point out that in recent years there is a growing body of data supporting the thesis that a healthy diet protecting the cardiovascular system can reverse many of the changes occurring because of intrauterine diseases.

Therefore, professionals recommend that these children follow a balanced diet, rich in foods that have omega3, such as nuts, olives and olive oil. In addition, these children should have healthy habits, practice sport and not smoke. Finally, doctors advise them to do a blood pressure check occasionally.

The percentage of assisted reproduction pregnancies in developed countries is ranging from 1% to 4%. Therefore, the results of this study can benefit thousands of patients.

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  • The presentation of the study developed by Barcelona Hospital Clínic and funded by La Caixa (by L. Roma)

  • The presentation of the study developed by Barcelona Hospital Clínic and funded by La Caixa (by L. Roma)