STUDY QUESTION: Do culture media influence birthweight of children born after IVF? SUMMARY ANSWER: Some studies have observed a significant effect of culture media on birthweight, while others have not, but since most studies compared different culture media, conventional meta-analysis was not possible. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Animal studies suggest that in vitro culture of embryos can have a significant effect on the birthweight of offspring when compared with in vivo developed embryos. The type of culture medium (or certain components of the medium) used is one of the causal factors. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We reviewed all available literature reporting on a relation between culture medium and birthweight in human studies and a selection of animal studies. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: An extensive literature search on Pubmed and Medline was performed with relevant search criteria relating to IVF, birthweight and culture medium. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Eleven studies reporting on a relationship between culture medium and birthweight in human were included in this review. Five of these found significant differences in birthweight when offspring born after culture in different culture media were compared. The remaining studies did not find differences in birthweight after changing culture medium. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: The number of human studies is limited and different culture media with different compositions are compared which makes a comparison between the studies difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, most study designs were retrospective with consecutive use of different culture media and limited sample sizes, which makes bias of the results likely. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: If it could be confirmed that the type of culture medium used does indeed influence phenotypic characteristics (such as birthweight) of children born after IVF, it would underline the importance of monitoring the health of IVF children in relation to aspects of the laboratory techniques used during embryo culture.
- culture medium