Women who give birth following the use of assisted reproductive technologies, including IVF, are more likely to develop gestational diabetes, a new study suggests.
The analysis of nearly two million pregnancies found that women who became pregnant via such technologies were 53 percent more likely than women conceiving spontaneously to develop gestational diabetes.
'This rigorous assessment of the best available evidence to date shows that singleton pregnancies achieved by IVF are linked with an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes compared with pregnancies conceived naturally,' said lead author Dr Panagiotis Anagnostis from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.
In a meta-analysis of data from 38 studies, the team found that out of the 63,760 women who became pregnant via assisted reproduction, 4776 developed gestational diabetes, compared with 158,526 out of the 1,870,734 who became pregnant naturally.
Further analysis of 17 studies involving 21,606 women matched for age, height, weight, smoking status and ethnic origin found that 42 percent of those who underwent assisted reproduction were more at risk of developing gestational diabetes compared with spontaneous conception. The work was presented at this year's meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona, Spain.
'The authors have not controlled for various medical disorders that can give an increased likelihood of gestational diabetes, but they have controlled for weight and age,' noted Professor Charles Kingsland, clinical director of CARE Fertility based in London, who was not involved in the study. 'We cannot say from this that IVF causes gestational diabetes.'
But he added: 'Nevertheless, this is an important finding with respect to the development of gestational diabetes and infertility.'
Dr Anagnostis said that although gestational diabetes is rare, 'women at risk must be identified and monitored'.
'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,' he said.