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Hum Reprod. 2016 Jul;31(7):1397-402. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dew089. Epub 2016 Apr 19.

Can IVF influence human evolution?

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Fertilitetsavdelingen Sor, Telemark Hospital Trust, Porsgrunn, Norway
Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
Department of Behavioural Sciences in Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


IVF, a procedure in which pharmacological and technological manipulation is used to promote pregnancy, offers help to infertile couples by circumventing selection at the most fundamental level. Fertility is clearly one of the key fitness-promoting drivers in all forms of sexually reproducing life, and fertilization and pregnancy are fundamental evolutionary processes that involve a range of pre- and post-zygotic screening mechanisms. Here, we discuss the various selection and screening factors involved in fertilization and pregnancy and assess IVF practices in light of these factors. We then focus on the possible consequences of these differences in selection pressures, mainly at the individual but also at the population level, to evaluate whether changes in the reproducing genotype can affect human evolution. The aim of the article is not to argue for or against IVF, but to address aspects of assisted reproduction in an evolutionary context.


assisted reproduction; evolution; human; infertility; selection

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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