Full-term children conceived with fertility drugs are shorter than their peers

June 25, 2012

Among children born full term, those conceived with the help of fertility drugs are slightly shorter than naturally conceived children but overall are physically healthy, a new study finds. Results of the study will be presented at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

"Reassuringly, these children remained well within the normal height range for both their sex and age," said researcher Tim Savage, MD, a pediatrician and research fellow at The Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, in Auckland, New Zealand.

Because some studies have found that IVF-conceived children are taller than naturally conceived children, the authors aimed to determine whether there was a difference in height for children whose mothers used only , such as clomiphene (Clomid), without in vitro fertilization (IVF). Ovarian-stimulating fertility drugs are part of IVF, but IVF also includes fertilization and culture of in a laboratory dish.

Successful use of ovarian stimulation alone is at least twice as common as IVF, accounting for about 5 percent of all in the developed world, Savage stated.

The researchers studied 84 children conceived with the help of fertility drugs alone and 258 children who were conceived naturally. All children were from a single-fetus, full-term pregnancy and ranged in age from 3 to 10 years. To optimize accuracy of the study, the researchers included only children who were born at full term and did not have a low birth weight, because children born small or prematurely have an increased risk of health problems, Savage said.

As a group, the fertility drug–conceived children were an average of 2 centimeters, or nearly an inch, shorter than the other children, considering their age and sex, Savage reported. In their statistical analysis, the researchers individually corrected the height of each child for their parents' height, because parents' height is the most important determining factor of a child's height, he explained.

When the groups were studied by sex, the height difference was more pronounced in boys than girls. Boys in the fertility drug group were 3 centimeters, or just more than an inch, shorter on average than the naturally conceived boys, according to Savage.

The cause of the slightly shorter stature of fertility drug–conceived children is unclear and requires further investigation, Savage said. Also unknown is whether these children catch up in stature when they reach their full adult height.

There were no important differences in general physical health between groups. Savage said the fertility drug–conceived children had a healthy weight and body fat percentage as well as excellent cholesterol and blood glucose (sugar) levels.

"Fertility treatment helps millions of couples to achieve their dream of becoming parents," Savage said. "It is important to continue research in this area in order to provide medical practitioners, parents and children with valuable information."

Explore further: The long-term fiscal impact of funding cuts for IVF in Denmark

Related Stories

The long-term fiscal impact of funding cuts for IVF in Denmark

July 6, 2011
Since 2010, free public health services in Denmark no longer extend towards assisted reproduction treatments (ART). However, publicly funded treatment provides economic benefits to governments with ART births positively influencing ...

Recommended for you

Is rushing your child to the ER the right response?

October 16, 2017
If a child gets a small burn from a hot pan, starts choking or swallows medication, parents may struggle to decide whether to provide first aid at home or rush them to the hospital, suggests a new national poll.

Happier mealtimes, healthier eating for kids

October 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Parents who struggle to get their children to follow a healthy diet may want to make dinnertime a pleasant experience, new research suggests.

Children born prematurely have greater risk of cognitive difficulties later in life

October 11, 2017
Babies born preterm have a greater risk of developing cognitive, motor and behavioural difficulties and these problems persist throughout school years, finds a new study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Helping preemies avoid unnecessary antibiotics

October 5, 2017
(HealthDay)—Researchers say they have identified three criteria that suggest an extremely premature infant has a low risk of developing sepsis, which might allow doctors to spare these babies early exposure to antibiotics.

Got a picky eater? How 'nature and nurture' may be influencing eating behavior in young children

October 3, 2017
For most preschool-age children, picky eating is just a normal part of growing up. But for others, behaviors such as insisting on only eating their favorite food item—think chicken nuggets at every meal—or refusing to ...

Anxious moms may give clues about how anxiety develops

September 27, 2017
Moms may be notorious worriers, but babies of anxious mothers may also spend more time focusing on threats in their environment, according to a team of researchers.

0 comments

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.