Friday, April 20, 2012

IVF problems?

There seems to be a certain desperation to find something wrong with IVF.   It was heavily opposed by the medical profession in its early days.  And the Pope thinks it is immoral, of course.  Sadly for the ghouls, however, the incidence of medical problems among IVF-conceived children is in fact very low. 

But the guy writing below reports   that there was a a different average of vascular indicators among IVF kids.  So he  drew the usual non-sequitur that IVF CAUSED that problerm.  That mothers who turn to IVF often have other health problems he seems to overlook.  The problem he identified could simply be a normal genetic transmission, in other words. Just a few such children in the sample could be skewing the average of the whole sample

IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) has brought the miracle of childbirth to hundreds of thousands; indeed it is now estimated that 1 per cent to 3 per cent of all births in developed nations involve IVF.

There have already been some health problems documented in IVF offspring. There is an approximately 20 per cent to 30 per cent increase in the risk of major malformations in IVF babies. However, the absolute risks of such outcomes is low.

Of greater concern would be any significant increase in the risk of the common cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack or stroke.

A recent scientific study from Switzerland has found significant abnormalities in the blood vessels in the body and lungs of 12-year-old children who were born through IVF (published in Circulation this month). The investigators assessed 65 IVF and 50 non-IVF children, and found significant adverse changes in their developing blood vessels.

The study included the careful examination of relevant control groups. By doing this, the authors found that the problems observed were likely caused by events that influenced the embryo when "in the test tube". Other research has recently also found elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels in IVF offspring.

Can environmental exposures so early in life actually alter the risk of later heart disease?

In 1992, we conducted research that found that abnormalities could be seen in the blood vessels of high-risk children. In 2005, we found increased blood vessel thickening in newborns with low birth weight, showing that even foetal events could potentially influence cardiovascular health in later life. It now seems that even the environment of the embryo might also influence heart-disease risk in adulthood.

Do children born from IVF need to be treated differently, from a health point of view? It is very important for IVF parents and children not to be unduly alarmed by these preliminary findings, mainly based on a single study of only 65 children. It would seem prudent for IVF children to lead a "heart-healthy" lifestyle of no smoking, sensible diet, regular exercise and occasional check-ups by their GPs.


Systemic and Pulmonary Vascular Dysfunction in Children Conceived by Assisted Reproductive Technologies

By Urs Scherrer, MD et al.


Background—Assisted reproductive technology (ART) involves the manipulation of early embryos at a time when they may be particularly vulnerable to external disturbances. Environmental influences during the embryonic and fetal development influence the individual's susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, raising concerns about the potential consequences of ART on the long-term health of the offspring.

Methods and Results—We assessed systemic (flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery, pulse-wave velocity, and carotid intima-media thickness) and pulmonary (pulmonary artery pressure at high altitude by Doppler echocardiography) vascular function in 65 healthy children born after ART and 57 control children. Flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery was 25% smaller in ART than in control children (6.7±1.6% versus 8.6±1.7%; P<0.0001), whereas endothelium-independent vasodilation was similar in the 2 groups. Carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity was significantly (P<0.001) faster and carotid intima-media thickness was significantly (P<0.0001) greater in children conceived by ART than in control children. The systolic pulmonary artery pressure at high altitude (3450 m) was 30% higher (P<0.001) in ART than in control children. Vascular function was normal in children conceived naturally during hormonal stimulation of ovulation and in siblings of ART children who were conceived naturally.

Conclusions—Healthy children conceived by ART display generalized vascular dysfunction. This problem does not appear to be related to parental factors but to the ART procedure itself.


Gum disease 'does not cause heart trouble': Any link 'coincidental', say scientists

A quite amazing degree of epidemiological realism below

The belief that gum disease can lead to heart attacks and strokes is unfounded, experts said yesterday.

A panel of 13 U.S. scientists insisted there was no evidence for a causal link between bad gums and cardiovascular disease.

They reviewed 500 articles in scientific journals and concluded that while people with gum disease may be at greater risk of heart and artery problems, the association is probably coincidental.

Both conditions shared common risk factors, such as smoking, and both produced similar inflammation markers.  Those common factors could help explain why diseases of the blood vessels and mouth can occur in tandem.

Research has shown that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without gum disease.

'Much of the literature is conflicting, but if there was a strong causative link, we would likely know that by now,' said Professor Peter Lockhart, co-chairman of the expert panel and chairman of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Centre in Charlotte, North Carolina. 'There's a lot of confusion out there.'

He cited coincidental lifestyle factors. 'We already know that some people are less proactive about their cardiovascular health.

'Individuals who do not pay attention to the very powerful and well-proven risk factors, like smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure, may not pay close attention to their oral health either.'

Professor Lockhart added: 'The message sent out by some in healthcare professions that heart attack and stroke are directly linked to gum disease can distort the facts, alarm patients and perhaps shift the focus on prevention away from well-known risk factors for these diseases.'

Only a large, long-term study could prove that dental disease caused heart disease, but there was no likelihood of such an investigation in the near future.

'It's most important to let patients know what we know now, and what we don't know,' said Professor Lockhart. The panel spelled out their views in a scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

A number of theories have been suggested to explain the association between gum and heart disease. One is that mouth bacteria attach to fatty deposits in arteries and trigger blood clots. Another is that they are a source of inflammation,  which leads to a thickening of artery walls.

But the experts writing in Circulation said statements that imply a cause and effect relationship between gum and heart and artery disease were 'unwarranted' at this time.

Natasha Stewart, of the British Heart Foundation, said: 'Maintaining good oral hygiene, as well as a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and taking part in  regular physical activity, are essential for good health including protecting your heart and gums.'

Professor Nairn Wilson, from the British Dental Association, said: 'One thing we can say with confidence is keeping your teeth and gums healthy by brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, restricting sugary foods to meal times and visiting the dentist regularly makes an important contribution to oral health and general well-being.'


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