Medical genetics

The study find that the effect that assisted reproduction technology has on babies’ genes is largely corrected by adulthood, new research led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has found. Published in the latest edition of Nature Communications, therefore the study found events that occur in early development, including ovarian stimulation, manipulation of the embryo and the extra hormones common in fertility treatment cycles, can impact gene health or epigenetics but these effects are short lived. Epigenetics is a process that controls how genes are turn on and off. Diet and other external environmental influences can play a role in this gene expression.

Technology has on babies’ genes

The study is design to see how often epigenetic changes occur due to assisted reproduction technology; and whether there are any differences in these changes from birth to adulthood. Reproduction is the biological process by which new individual organisms are produce. But Reproduction is a fundamental feature of all known life; each individual organism exists as the result of reproduction. The known methods of reproduction are broadly grouped into two main types: sexual and asexual.

In asexual reproduction, an individual can reproduce without involvement with another individual of that species. The division of a bacterial cell into two daughter cells is an example of asexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction is not, however, limited to single-celled organisms. Most plants have the ability to reproduce asexually. “In two independent groups; we found the same effects of assisted reproduction on genes when examining heel prick blood spots collected soon after birth,” study senior MCRI Professor Richard Saffery says. “These epigenetic changes were not evident in the adult blood samples.”

Assisted reproduction technology

MCRI Professor Jane Halliday, who established the cohort, and has studied the health of these individuals in adulthood; said assist conception is link to a small increase risk of preterm birth; low birth weight, being small for gestational age or perinatal mortality. “Given the interventions associated with assisted reproduction technology at the time of conception, there were concerns that epigenetic changes may be taking place, silencing important genes and resulting in a heightened risk of health problems,” she says.

More than seven million people around the world, including more than 200,000 people in Australia have been conceive through assist reproduction technology since 1978.Dr. Boris Novakovic, who performed most of the analysis for the study, says that despite the expansion of assisted reproduction technology worldwide; few studies have investigated the potential underlying effects on genes. “Previous studies have found some epigenetic changes in embryos grown in labs. However, no study has looked for these changes in the same individuals at birth and adulthood as we have done,” he says.