Comparative birth weights of singletons born after assisted reproduction and natural conception in previously infertile women

C. De Geyter, M. De Geyter, S. Steimann, H. Zhang, W. Holzgreve

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83 Scopus citations


Background: The possible interference of assisted reproduction techniques (ART) with epigenetic reprogramming during early embryo development has recently sparked renewed interest about the reported lower birth weight among infants born as a consequence of infertility treatments. However, the latter finding so far has relied on the comparison of the birth weight of infants conceived with ART to general population data. A more appropriate comparison group should involve pregnancies in infertile women after natural conception. Therefore, we compared neonatal birth weight data of infants born after various ART treatments, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), with those of previously infertile women achieving pregnancy after sexual intercourse. Methods: Between August 1996 and March 2004 the data of all infertile women presenting in the infertility unit of the University Women's Hospital of Basel, Switzerland, were collected prospectively, adding up to 995 intact pregnancies and deliveries. The birth weight of all infants resulting from 741 singleton pregnancies were analysed with regard to the patients' characteristics, the occurrence of complications during pregnancy and the type of infertility treatment with which the pregnancies were achieved. Results: Comparison of duration of pregnancy and birth weight of infants born after infertility treatment confirms a shorter pregnancy span and a lower mean birth weight in infants born after IVF and ICSI. If women with pregnancies after ART deliver before term, neonatal birth weight is significantly lower. Conclusions: There is a specific effect of ART, mainly IVF and ICSI, on both shortening the duration of pregnancy and lowering neonatal birth weight. Both these parameters seem to be interrelated consequences of some modification in the gestational process induced by the infertility treatment. Freezing and thawing of oocytes in the pronucleate stage had a lesser impact on pregnancy span and on neonatal birth weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-712
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Cryopreservation
  • ICSI
  • IVF
  • Parental genomic imprinting
  • Vanishing twin


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