High childhood BMI is strongly associated with obesity and cardiometabolic disease and mortality in adulthood. Children conceived after FET have a higher risk of being born large for gestational age (LGA) than children conceived after NC. It is well-documented that being born LGA is associated with an increased risk of obesity in childhood, and it has been hypothesized that ART induces epigenetic variations around fertilization, implantation, and early embryonic stages, which influence fetal size at birth as well as BMI and health later in life.
The study ‘Health in Childhood following Assisted Reproductive Technology’ (HiCART) is a large retrospective cohort study with 606 singletons aged 7–10 years divided into three groups according to mode of conception: FET (n = 200), fresh-ET (n = 203), and NC (n = 203). All children were born in Eastern Denmark from 2009 to 2013 and the study was conducted from January 2019 to September 2021.
The increased birthweight in children conceived after FET did not translate into differences in BMI, however, for the girls born after FET, we observed increased height (SDS) and weight (SDS) compared to the girls born after NC, while for the boys the results remained insignificant after confounder adjustment. Since body composition in childhood is a strong biomarker of cardiometabolic disease later in life, longitudinal studies of girls and boys born after FET are needed.