STUDY QUESTION: Does oocyte vitrification adversely affect the health of 2-year-old children compared with peers born after use of fresh oocytes in a donation programme?
SUMMARY ANSWER: The growth and health of 2-year-old children born after oocyte vitrification are similar to those of peers born after use of fresh oocytes.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Although oocyte vitrification is a well-established procedure in ART, the evidence on its safety for offspring is limited. Currently, no disadvantageous effects of oocyte vitrification have been shown in terms of obstetric and neonatal outcome. However, no data beyond the neonatal period are available to date.
STUDY DESIGN SIZE DURATION: A combined retrospective and prospective observational study was performed in a tertiary reproductive centre. The retrospective data were available in our extensive database of children born after ART. Donor cycles with an oocyte retrieval between January 2010 and March 2017 and a fresh embryo transfer resulting in the livebirth of a singleton were selected from the established oocyte donation programme. Fresh or vitrified oocytes were used in the donor cycles and all pregnancies in oocyte recipients were achieved after ICSI. Only children residing in Belgium were eligible for follow-up.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS SETTING METHODS: Biometric and health parameters of 72 children born after oocyte vitrification were compared with those of 41 children born after use of a fresh oocyte. Data were collected by means of questionnaires and physical examinations at the age of 21-30 months. The primary outcome measures were anthropometry and health at 2 years of age.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Length, weight, BMI, head circumference, left arm circumference and waist circumference at the age of 2 years were comparable between the vitrification and fresh group, also after adjustment for treatment, and maternal and neonatal characteristics (all P > 0.05). Health of the children in terms of hospital admission and surgical intervention rates were comparable between the vitrification and fresh group (both P > 0.05).
LIMITATIONS REASONS FOR CAUTION: Although the current study is the largest series describing health parameters beyond the neonatal period, the small numbers still preclude definite conclusions.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: This study provides the first evidence indicating that oocyte vitrification does not adversely affect the growth and health of offspring beyond the neonatal period.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: This study was supported by Methusalem grants and by grants from Wetenschappelijk Fonds Willy Gepts, all issued by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. All co-authors declared no conflict of interest in relation to this work. Both the Centre for Reproductive Medicine and the Centre for Medical Genetics from the UZ Brussel have received several educational grants from IBSA, Ferring, MSD and Merck for either research on oocyte vitrification or for establishing the database for follow-up research and organizing the data collection.
Bibliographical note© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
- oocyte donation
- oocyte vitrification