Children conceived through assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have an elevated risk of lower birthweight, yet the underlying cause remains unclear. Our study explores mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variants as contributors to birthweight differences by impacting mitochondrial function during prenatal development. We deep-sequenced the mtDNA of 451 ART and spontaneously conceived (SC) individuals, 157 mother-child pairs and 113 individual oocytes from either natural menstrual cycles or after ovarian stimulation (OS) and find that ART individuals carried a different mtDNA genotype than SC individuals, with more de novo non-synonymous variants. These variants, along with rRNA variants, correlate with lower birthweight percentiles, independent of conception mode. Their higher occurrence in ART individuals stems from de novo mutagenesis associated with maternal aging and OS-induced oocyte cohort size. Future research will establish the long-term health consequences of these changes and how these findings will impact the clinical practice and patient counselling in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1232
Number of pages16
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2024

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