The Consequences of Assisted Reproduction Technologies on the Offspring Health Throughout Life: A Placental Contribution.
The use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) worldwide has led to the conception and birth of over eight million babies since being implemented in 1978. ART use is currently on the rise, given growing infertility and the increase in conception age among men and women in industrialized countries. Though obstetric and perinatal outcomes have improved over the years, pregnancies achieved by ART still bear increased risks for the mother and the unborn child. Moreover, given that the first generation of ART offspring is now only reaching their forties, the long-term effects of ART are currently unknown. This is important, as there is a wealth of data showing that life-long health can be predetermined by poor conditions during intrauterine development, including irregularities in the structure and functioning of the placenta. In the current review, we aim to summarize the latest available findings examining the effects of ART on the cardiometabolic, cognitive/neurodevelopmental, and behavioral outcomes in the perinatal period, childhood and adolescence/adulthood; and to examine placental intrinsic factors that may contribute to the developmental outcomes of ART offspring. Altogether, the latest knowledge about life outcomes beyond adolescence for those conceived by ART appears to suggest a better long-term outcome than previously predicted. There are also changes in placenta structure and functional capacity with ART. However, more work in this area is critically required, since the potential consequences of ART may still emerge as the offspring gets older. In addition, knowledge of the placenta may help to foresee and mitigate any adverse outcomes in the offspring.