May 26, 2024


 The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has been holding its annual meeting in New Orleans — always a reliable source of choke- on-your-Cheerios articles for newspapers around the world. This year the journal Nature even dispatched a reporter, Helen Pearson, who blogged her way through the "strange stuff that doctors do with embryos" throughout the week.

The most widely reported news from this year’s conference was that women who wait until later in life to have children may risk damaging the fertility of their daughters. Although the study at an IVF clinic in Atlanta involved only 74 women, it raises the troubling possibility that the trend of women waiting until their late 30s to conceive may increase the infertility of the next generation.

"A mother’s reproductive age is important not only for herself, but it will determine to a certain extent the chances of her daughter or daughters being infertile," said Dr Peter Nagy, of Reproductive Biology Associates. "When we are treating patients close to the age of 40, we are helping them get babies but, at the same time, these children will have a higher risk of becoming infertility patients."

The study found that women who became pregnant at the fertility clinic had slightly younger parents, with fathers aged 28.2 and mothers aged 25.7. Women who failed to become pregnant had parents who were on average 31.9 and 28.2. Women who failed to conceive were born when their mothers were about five years closer to the menopause.