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Hum Reprod. 2002 Nov;17(11):2783-6.

Epigenetic risks related to assisted reproductive technologies: short- and long-term consequences for the health of children conceived through assisted reproduction technology: more reason for caution?

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.


Does the manipulation of gametes and embryos as practised in human IVF invoke perturbations in fetal and neonatal phenotype? There is increasing evidence that the answer is 'yes', although the degree of perturbation may be less acute than observed in other species. However, the long-term consequences are not known, and may prove to be considerable. There is now a substantial body of evidence from animal models suggesting that assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are associated with altered outcomes in fetal and neonatal development. Epigenetic modification of gene expression is an attractive hypothesis that accounts for these differences and is one of a number of causal pathways that may be activated by cellular stress invoked during manipulation. Here we widen the debate to propose that environment-induced cellular stress also acts to modify fetal and placental gene expression, potentially also contributing to phenotype skewing after ART.

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