Aims: The aim was to evaluate whether assisted reproductive technology (ART) affects the development of the fetal central nervous system (CNS).
Methods: This study was carried out on women with singleton pregnancies, including 427 women who became pregnant by ART and 32,859 women with natural conceptions (NCs). The cavum septum pellucidum (CSP) width, transverse cerebellar diameter (TCD), cisterna magna (CM) depth, and lateral ventricle width were measured by ultrasound for 72 normal ART fetuses and 201 normal NC fetuses. The malformation rate of CNS was determined for both groups.
Results: In both groups, significant positive correlations with gestational age were found for CSP width (ART: r=0.7841, NC: r=0.7864; P<0.0001) and for TCD (ART: r=0.7698, NC: r=0.6926; P<0.0001). However, neither CM depth nor lateral ventricle width showed a significant correlation with gestational age. None of the measured parameters showed a statistically significant difference between the two groups. The CNS malformation detection rate was 1.2% (5/427) in ART fetuses and 0.9% (296/32,859) in NC fetuses. It did not reach statistical significance (P>0.05).
Conclusions: The development and malformation rate of the fetal CNS is not significantly different between ART and NC fetuses, thus, ART does not affect the development of the fetal brain.
We are grateful for the cooperation and support from all of our study participants. We would like to express our great appreciation to Professor Fei Xia from the First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University for her original conception of the study. We thank Directors Qing Liang, Wei Lu, Xiaoli Jiang, Hongmei Chang, and Yaqi Tang for their support. We thank Drs. Hong Liang, Wei Jiang, Lingling Sun, Zhong Yang, Jingling Zhou, and Bing Lu for sample collection. Thanks to all other members in the Center for Medical Ultrasound for their support. We also thank Dr. Qin Zhang from the Reproductive Genetics Center for the follow-up and karyotype analysis data, and Director Feng Fan for the biopsy report of fetuses.
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The authors stated that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this article.
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