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Science Saturday Swiss doctor says IVF kids are at risk of heart problems

doctors and heart diagram

Could the problems eventually require surgery?

(© Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

Researchers in Bern are looking into the risks of artificial insemination by testing the hearts of young adults.

Urs Scherrer, professor emeritus of cardiology at the Inselspital in Bern, has been researching people conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) for the past decade.

Those conceived in vitro are already showing the first signs of heart trouble, as Scherrer told Swiss public television, SRF.external link

"We expect that their hearts don't function optimally under exertion, as would the hearts of normally conceived people the same age," Scherrer said.

In the past, Scherrer was able to show that his in vitro test subjects already had an increased risk of developing high blood pressure requiring treatment as adolescents.

Currently, he and his team want to determine whether the young adults in his study have altered heart shapes similar to those observed in mice conceived via IVF.

"We are dealing with a previously unknown at-risk population. And there are many in vitro children, especially if you look at the development globally," Scherrer said, adding that the health problems could potentially be passed on to the next generation.

Other studies

SRF also interviewed Christian De Geyter of Basel University Hospital, one of Switzerland's best-known reproductive physicians.

"There are other large studies that have not shown the problem. But of course it is important to pursue this further. We take this very seriously," De Geyter said.

A major research project on the topic had been planned involving all five Swiss university hospitals. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to a lack of funding, De Geyter told SRF.


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