Pregnancy achieved via in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is associated with a greater risk of gestational diabetes, according to a research team in Greece.

It is already known that these techniques are associated with an increased risk of pregnancy and birth complications. It is estimated that over half a million babies are born worldwide, each year, thanks to these techniques.

It was previously unclear whether or not assisted reproduction impacts upon the mother’s risk of developing gestational diabetes and so this new analysis sought to fill the gap in knowledge.

The meta-analysis found that women giving birth to singleton babies, who became pregnant via assisted reproduction techniques, including IVF and similar methods, had a 53% increased relative risk of developing gestational diabetes.

More than two million pregnancies, from 38 studies, were analysed in total. Within this sample, 163,302 cases of gestational diabetes were identified.

4,766 out of 63,760 women who became pregnant using assistive techniques developed gestational diabetes, compared to 158,526 out of 1,870,734 who became pregnant via spontaneous conception.

Further analysis of 17 studies matched subjects for age, height, weight, smoking status and ethnicity. With these corrections, the relative risk increase fell slightly to 42%.

Dr Panagiotis Anagnostis, of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, said: “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.

“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.”

He added: “Whilst gestational diabetes remains a rare outcome for assisted reproduction technologies, the complications of the former indicate that women at risk must be identified and monitored, ensuring they receive early detection and appropriate support and care.”

These findings were unveiled at the 55th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), which is running this week in Barcelona.

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