Expectant mothers who get pregnant through IVF could be more likely to suffer gestational diabetes.
Researchers found women who undergo fertility treatments have up 50 per cent higher odds compared to women who conceive naturally.
Scientists said it’s not clear why the danger exists – but it could be due to medical conditions that caused difficulty conceiving in the first place.
It could also be due to a surge of hormones used in fertility treatment to enhance pregnancy success, experts speculate.
Expectant mothers who have children through IVF may be more likely to suffer gestational diabetes, a study by researchers in Greece found
Gestational diabetes can lead to serious problems, including the dangerous pre-eclampsia or stillbirth. It usually strikes overweight mothers-to-be.
The condition is common, thought to occur in one in 20 pregnancies, according to leading charity Tommy’s.
Although it usually disappears on it’s own after childbirth, it raises the risk of both mother and baby getting full-blown diabetes later in life.
Academics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece led the research, a review of 38 previous studies involving almost nearly two million women.
A total of 63,760 women conceived through an artificial reproduction technique (ART), such as IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
GLUTEN IN CHILD’S DIET LINKED TO DIABETES
For every 10g of gluten an infant eats each day there is a 46 per cent higher risk of them getting type 1 diabetes, according to a study.
Norwegian researchers looked at how a child’s intake of gluten for the first 18 months of their life affected their likelihood of being diagnosed with the condition.
The study included 86,306 children born from 1999 to 2009, followed up until April 2018.
The authors estimated gluten intake per day from questionnaires that parents filled out using grams. The most common foods with gluten in the diet were cereal and bread.
The reason for the link is unclear, but the authors, led by Dr Nicolai Lund-Blix, Oslo University Hospital, suggested some possible reasons.
They said: ‘There is some evidence that gluten intake may influence the gut microbiota and induce inflammation in so-called ‘leaky gut’.
‘If anything, we believe that gluten works in combination with another environmental factors such as virus infections in predisposed children.’
At this stage, the authors said their study, together with existing evidence, is not enough to encourage people to avoid or reduce gluten intake.
The findings are yet to be published, and will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona this month.
ICSI is when a single sperm cell is injected directly into an egg. It is different to standard IVF, when fertilisation happens in a dish.
A total of 163,302 women in the analysis went on to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Almost 5,000 of those were women who had ART, according to the findings which were presented at a diabetes conference in Barcelona.
An analysis of the data revealed the rate of gestational diabetes was 53 per cent higher in the ART group than those who had a baby naturally.
A further 17 studies were analysed, involving 21,606 women who were matched for age, height, weight, smoking status, and ethnic origin.
The researchers, led by Dr Panagiotis Anagnostis, found women who underwent ART were 42 per cent more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
Dr Anagostis claimed the review was a ‘rigorous assessment of the best available evidence to date’.
He said: ‘Pregnancies achieved by IVF are linked with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, compared with pregnancies conceived naturally.
‘The exact mechanism is unclear, and whether this risk is due to the medical intervention or the underlying infertility status of the couples undergoing assisted reproduction, is not yet fully understood and requires further research.’
Dr Adam Watkins, a reproductive biology professor at the University of Nottingham, said IVF has been linked to pregnancy complications before.
These include low-birth weight and pre-eclampsia.
Dr Watkins told MailOnline: ‘Some people have speculated that as women undergoing IVF tend to be older and have a higher prevalence of conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) than women who conceive naturally, this may be part of the underlying cause.’
PCOS affects up to eight per cent of women and can lead to fertility problems, weight gain and diabetes.
Dr Watkins said: ‘Also, there could be some effects from the levels of hormones used to stimulate women into producing the eggs needed for IVF as well as the surgical transfer of the embryos back into the uterus.’
It is known that a spike in hormones produced during pregnancy can lead to the body using insulin less efficiently, increasing the risk of insulin resistance and therefore diabetes.
Alastair Sutcliffe, professor of general paediatrics at University College London, said: ‘Is there grounds for panic or concern, on the available report? Probably not.
‘But these kinds of analyses are needed to monitor what are largely theoretical risks.’
More than eight million babies have been born from ART around the world, according to figures.
Half a million babies are now born each year from IVF and ICSI.
The findings will be presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF IVF?
Researchers from the National University of Singapore found the odds of developing gestational diabetes doulbed for women who conceived through IVF compared with women who conceive naturally.
The risk appeared to be more pronounced in women who were overweight or obesity.
The NHS states if a woman who undergoes IVF gets pregnant with multiple babies – due to more than one embryo being replaced in the womb – there is a significantly higher risk of complications for mother and babies.
These include miscarriage, pregnancy-related high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, anaemia and heavy bleeding and needing a caesarean section.
The babies are also more likely to be born prematurely or with a low birth weight, and are at an increased risk of developing life-threatening complications such as neonatal respiratory distress syndrome or long-term disabilities, such as cerebral palsy.
Some of the reasons why problems occur are not clear, but it may be due to underlying causes of infertility or age.
The risk of miscarriage and birth defects increases with the age of the woman having IVF treatment.
Many women also have side effects from the medication used.