Human Reproduction

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ISSN / EISSN : 0268-1161 / 1460-2350
Published by: Oxford University Press (OUP) (10.1093)
Total articles ≅ 20,734
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, Yu-Han Chiu, Paolo Rinaudo, John Hsu, Miguel A Hernán, Sonia Hernández-Díaz
Published: 20 January 2022
STUDY QUESTION: What are the comparative pregnancy outcomes in women who receive up to six consecutive cycles of ovulation induction with letrozole versus clomiphene citrate? SUMMARY ANSWER: The risks of pregnancy, livebirth, multiple gestation, preterm birth, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission and congenital malformations were higher for letrozole compared with clomiphene in participants with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), though no treatment differences were observed in those with unexplained infertility. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Randomized trials have reported higher pregnancy and livebirth rates for letrozole versus clomiphene among individuals with PCOS, but no differences among those with unexplained infertility. None of these trials were designed to study maternal or neonatal complications. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We emulated a hypothetical trial of the comparative effectiveness of letrozole versus clomiphene citrate for ovulation induction among all women, then stratified by PCOS and unexplained infertility status. We used real-world data from a large healthcare claims database in the USA (2011–2015). PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: We analyzed data from 18 120 women who initiated letrozole and 49 647 women who initiated clomiphene during 2011–2014, and who were aged 18–45 years with no history of diabetes, thyroid disease, liver disease or breast cancer and had no fertility treatments for 3 months before trial initiation. The treatment strategies were clomiphene citrate or letrozole for six consecutive cycles. The outcomes were pregnancy, livebirth, multiple gestation, preterm birth, small for gestational age (SGA), NICU admission and major congenital malformations. We estimated the probability of each outcome under each strategy via pooled logistic regression and used standardization to adjust for confounding and selection bias due to loss to follow-up. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: The estimated probabilities of pregnancy, livebirth and neonatal outcomes were similar under each strategy, both overall and among individuals with unexplained infertility. Among women with PCOS, the probability of pregnancy was 43% for letrozole vs 37% for clomiphene (risk difference [RD] = 6.0%; 95% CI: 4.4, 7.7) in the intention-to-treat analyses. The corresponding probability of livebirth was 32% vs 29% (RD = 3.1%; 95% CI: 1.5, 4.8). In per protocol analyses, the risk of multiple gestation was 19% vs 9%, the risk of preterm birth was 20% vs 15%, the risk of SGA was 5% vs 3%, the risk of NICU admission was 22% vs 16% and the risk of congenital malformation was 8% vs 2% among those with a livebirth. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: We cannot completely rule out the possibility of residual confounding by body mass index or duration of infertility. However, we adjusted for proxies identified in administrative data and results did not change. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Our findings suggest that for women with unexplained infertility, the two treatments result in comparable probabilities of a livebirth. For women with PCOS, letrozole appears slightly more effective for attaining a livebirth. Neonatal outcomes were similar for the two treatments among women with unexplained infertility; we did not confirm the hypothesized higher risk of adverse neonatal outcomes for clomiphene versus letrozole. The risks of adverse neonatal outcomes were slightly greater among women with PCOS who were treated with letrozole versus clomiphene. It is likely that these effects are partially mediated through an increased risk of multiple gestation among women who received letrozole. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This work was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD088393). Y.-H.C. reports grants from the American Heart Association (834106) and NIH (R01HD097778). P.R. reports grants from the National Institutes of Health. J.H. reports grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the California Health Care Foundation during the conduct of the study; and consulting for several health care delivery organizations including Cambridge Health Alliance, Columbia University, University of Southern California, Community Servings, and the Delta Health Alliance. S.H.-D. reports grants from the National Institutes of Health and the US Food and Drug Administration during the conduct of the study; grants to her institution from Takeda outside the submitted work; consulting for UCB (biopharmaceutical company) and Roche; and being an adviser for the Antipsychotics Pregnancy Registry and epidemiologist for the North American Antiepileptics Pregnancy Registry, both at Massachusetts General Hospital. M.A.H. reports grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Veterans Administration during the conduct of the study; being a consultant for Cytel; and being an adviser for ProPublica. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
Heidi T Cueto, Bjarke H Jacobsen, Anne Sofie Dam Laursen, Anders H Riis, Elizabeth E Hatch, Lauren A Wise, Ellen Trolle, Henrik Toft Sørensen, Kenneth J Rothman, , et al.
Published: 20 January 2022
STUDY QUESTION: To what extent is dietary folate intake and total folate intake (dietary and supplemental intakes) associated with fecundability, the per cycle probability of conception? SUMMARY ANSWER: Preconception dietary folate intake was positively associated with fecundability in a monotonic pattern. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Supplemental folic acid has been associated with improved fertility, but little is known about the relation between dietary folate and fecundability. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: A prospective cohort study including 9559 women trying to conceive without fertility treatment and enrolled in the period 2013-2020. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: We used data from two internet-based prospective cohort studies of pregnancy planners from Denmark, where folic acid fortification is not performed (SnartForæ (SF); n = 3755) and North America, where the food supply is fortified with folic acid (Pregnancy Study Online (PRESTO); n = 5804). Women contributed menstrual cycles at risk until they reported conception or experienced a censoring event. We used proportional probabilities regression models to compute fecundability ratios (FRs) and 95% CI, adjusting for potential confounders. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Compared with a dietary folate intake ≥400 µg/day, the adjusted FRs for women in SF were 0.92 (95% CI: 0.85–0.99) for intake 250–399 µg/day, and 0.80 (95% CI: 0.68–0.94) for intake of <250 µg/day. The corresponding FRs in PRESTO were 0.95 (95% CI: 0.89–1.01) and 0.81 (95% CI: 0.65–1.00). Compared with the highest level of total folate intake (diet folate ≥400 µg/day plus folic acid supplementation), in both cohorts fecundability was lowest among women with the lowest dietary intake <250 µg/day dietary folate and no supplementation (FR: 0.76, 95% CI: 0.59–0.98 [SF] and 0.49, 95% CI: 0.31–0.77 [PRESTO]). Further, total intake dietary folate <250 µg/day plus supplementation was associated with reduced fecundability for SF participants (FR; 0.79, 95% CI: 0.65–0.98) and for PRESTO participants (FR; 0.92, 95% CI: 0.72–1.16). LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: It is unknown whether dietary folate and folic acid intake affect fecundability on its own or if there is an interaction with other micronutrients provided in healthy diet. Thus, the observed associations may not reflect dietary folate intake alone, but overall healthy diet. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Recommendations for preconception dietary folate intake and folic acid supplementation are of importance not only to prevent neural tube defects but also to enhance fecundability. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): The study was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD086742). The authors report no competing interests. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
Franz S Gruber, , Neil R Norcross, Irene Georgiou, Caroline Wilson, Kevin D Read, , , ,
Published: 20 January 2022
STUDY QUESTION: Can a high-throughput screening (HTS) platform facilitate male fertility drug discovery? SUMMARY ANSWER: An HTS platform identified a large number of compounds that enhanced sperm motility. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Several efforts to find small molecules modulating sperm function have been performed but none have used high-throughput technology. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Healthy donor semen samples were used and samples were pooled (3–5 donors per pool). Primary screening was performed singly; dose–response screening was performed in duplicate (using independent donor pools). PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Spermatozoa isolated from healthy donors were prepared by density gradient centrifugation and incubated in 384-well plates with compounds (6.25 μM) to identify those compounds with enhancing effects on motility. Approximately 17 000 compounds from the libraries, ReFRAME, Prestwick, Tocris, LOPAC, CLOUD and MMV Pathogen Box, were screened. Dose–response experiments of screening hits were performed to confirm the enhancing effect on sperm motility. Experiments were performed in a university setting. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: From our primary single concentration screening, 105 compounds elicited an enhancing effect on sperm motility compared to dimethylsulphoxide-treated wells. Confirmed enhancing compounds were grouped based on their annotated targets/target classes. A major target class, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, were identified, in particular PDE10A inhibitors as well as number of compounds not previously known to enhance human sperm motility, such as those related to GABA signalling. LARGE SCALE DATA: N/A. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Although this approach provides data about the activity of the compound, it is only a starting point. For example, further substantive experiments are necessary to provide a more comprehensive picture of each compound’s activity, the effect on the kinetics of the cell populations and subpopulations, and their potential mechanisms of action. Compounds have been tested with prepared donor spermatozoa, incubated under non-capacitating conditions, and only incubated with compounds for a relatively short period of time. Therefore, the effect of compounds under different conditions, for example in whole semen, for longer incubation times, or using samples from patient groups, may be different and require further study. All experiments were performed in vitro. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: This phenotypic screening assay identified a large number of compounds that increased sperm motility. In addition to furthering our understanding of human sperm function, for example identifying new avenues for discovery, we highlight potential compounds as promising start-point for a medicinal chemistry programme for potential enhancement of male fertility. Moreover, with disclosure of the results of screening, we present a substantial resource to inform further work in the field. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This study was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Scottish Funding Council and Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance. C.L.R.B. is Editor for RBMO. C.L.R.B. receives funding from Chief Scientists Office (Scotland), ESHRE and Genus PLC, consulting fees from Exscientia and lecture fees from Cooper Surgical and Ferring. S.M.d.S. is an Associate Editor of Human Reproduction, and an Associate Editor of Reproduction and Fertility. S.M.d.S. receives funding from Cooper Surgical and British Dietetic Society. No other authors declared a COI.
Jiaxin Qiu, Tong Du, Chen Chen, QiFeng Lyu, Ben W Mol, Ming Zhao,
Published: 20 January 2022
STUDY QUESTION: What is the impact of uterine malformations on reproductive and neonatal outcomes of IVF/ICSI–frozen embryo transfer? SUMMARY ANSWER: Unification defective uteri are associated with poorer neonatal outcomes including higher preterm delivery rate and lower birthweight, and septate uteri are associated with worse fertility outcomes including higher miscarriage and lower live birth rates (LBRs). WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Several studies have investigated the negative effects of uterine malformations on pregnancy outcomes. However, an all-round and definitive conclusion has not been reached yet owing to the relatively low incidence of the disease and the heterogeneity of study populations, especially among women undergoing ART. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: This was a retrospective cohort study including 411 women with congenital uterine anomalies and 14 936 women with a normal uterus who underwent first frozen-thawed embryo transfer cycles of IVF/ICSI from July 2008 to August 2019. We compared reproductive outcomes. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Reproductive outcomes of women with uterine malformations were studied through three propensity score-matched comparisons (patients with bicorporeal uterus, septate uterus and hemi-uterus [bicorporeal, septate and hemi-uterus groups, respectively] along with corresponding control groups without uterine malformations). We also compared pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, and performed subgroup analysis addressing didelphus, bicornuate uteri and septate uteri before and after surgery independently. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Compared to the matched control group, women with a bicorporeal uterus had a significantly lower LBR (24.4% versus 34.8%, odds ratio (OR) 0.61 [95% CI: 0.37, 1.00], P = 0.048). The incidence of miscarriage and preterm delivery was higher but not statistically significant (29.0% versus 18.1%, OR 1.85 [95% CI: 0.82, 4.19], P = 0.135; 22.6% versus 9.9%, OR 2.64 [95% CI: 1.07, 6.52], P = 0.063, respectively). In addition, the bicorporeal group had a significantly lower gestational age, higher caesarean rate and lower birthweight than bicorporeal control. Women with a septate uterus had comparable clinical pregnancy rates to controls (43.3% versus 49.9%, OR 0.77 [95% CI: 0.57, 1.04], P = 0.091), increased miscarriage rates (23.5% versus 13.0%, OR 2.05 [95% CI: 1.18, 3.58], P = 0.010) and lower LBRs (29.4% versus 42.2%, OR 0.57 [95% CI: 0.41, 0.79], P = 0.001). In both singleton and twins pregnancies, pregnancy and neonatal outcomes were comparable between women with a septate uterus and control. Women with a hemi-uterus had a tendency for lower clinical pregnancy rate (36.8% versus 42.3%, OR 0.80 [95% CI: 0.52, 1.21], P = 0.287) and LBR (29.8% versus 33.1%, OR 0.86 [95% CI: 0.55, 1.34], P = 0.502), compared to women without malformations. The incidences of miscarriage and preterm delivery, respectively, were 16.7% versus 16.6% (OR 1.01 [95% CI: 0.41, 2.47], P = 0.989), and 9.5% versus 11.4% (OR 0.82 [95% CI: 0.27, 2.51], P = 1) in women with a hemi-uterus as compared to control. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: This was a single-centre, retrospective study in which neonatal data were extracted from parental questionnaires. The information on uteri septum type and surgery methods was poorly presented, with limited detail. In patients with uterine malformations, the number of babies with birth defects and twin pregnancies was relatively small, limiting the power of the study. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Compared to patients with a normal uterus, women with uterine malformation have poorer reproductive outcomes. Pregnant women with a uterine anomaly need to be managed as high-risk pregnancies and followed with appropriate obstetric review. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This work was supported by the National Ministry of Technology (2018YFC1003000), the Elite Team Project of Ninth People’s Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (JY201801), Shanghai Sailing Program (21YF1423200) and the Fundamental Research Program Funding of Ninth People’s Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (JYZZ117). B.W.M. is supported by an NHMRC Investigatorgrant (GNT1176437). B.W.M. reports consultancy (with stock options) for ObsEva. B.W.M. has received research funding from Ferring and Merck. The authors declare no other competing interests. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
U Ezeh, M D Pisarska,
Published: 20 January 2022
STUDY QUESTION: Is the severity of menstrual cyclicity related to hyperinsulinemia and dysglycemia in women with hyperandrogenic polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? SUMMARY ANSWER: Hyperandrogenic PCOS women with amenorrhea, compared to those with oligomenorrhea or eumenorrhea, had a greater risk of post-challenge hyperinsulinemia, which may explain their higher prevalence of dysglycemia. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: PCOS is associated with metabolic dysregulation including insulin resistance (IR) and hyperinsulinemia, risk factors for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and other vascular-metabolic morbidities. Although the severity of menstrual cyclicity is associated with IR in PCOS, it is unclear whether, and to what extent, it is related to hyperinsulinemia and glycemic abnormalities. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We prospectively compared the degree of menstrual cyclicity with the presence of dysglycemia (elevated 1-h plasma glucose ≥155 mg/dl; abnormal glucose tolerance [AGT], including prediabetes and T2DM; and AUC for glucose [G-AUC]) or dynamic state hyperinsulinemia (peak insulin levels either at 1 or 2 h of the oral glucose tolerance test (oGTT) and AUC for insulin [I-AUC]) in 333 hyperandrogenic PCOS women. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: In a tertiary care setting, hyperandrogenic PCOS participants with ovulatory eumenorrhea (Ov-Eumeno, n = 25), anovulatory eumenorrhea (Anov-Eumeno, n = 33), oligomenorrhea (Oligo, n = 150) and amenorrhea (Ameno, n = 125) underwent comprehensive phenotyping and a 2-h 75 g oGTT. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Mean BMI was greater among Ameno women than among Oligo, Anov-Eumeno or Ov-Eumeno women. Adjusting for BMI, the Ameno group demonstrated higher mean 1- and 2-h insulin and glucose, peak insulin and I-AUC and G-AUC, and either had a higher, or tended toward having a higher, prevalence of elevated 1-h glucose level and prevalence of AGT than the Oligo, Anov-Eumeno or Ov-Eumeno groups. In logistic regression, adjusting for BMI, Ameno women were more likely to have: AGT than Oligo women (odds ratio [OR]: 2.3; 95% CI: 1.3 to 4.2); elevated 1-h glucose (OR: 10.2; CI: 1.3–79.7) than those with Ov-Eumeno; and both AGT (OR: 1.7; CI: 1.1–2.6) and elevated 1-h glucose (OR: 1.8; CI: 1.1–2.8) than those with Anov-Eumeno or Ov-Eumeno when combined. Race/ethnicity, age, waist-to-hip ratio, fasting insulin and glucose, and biochemical or clinical measures of hyperandrogenism were similar across the four menstrual categories. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Our study was limited by its cross-sectional nature and by studying women affected by PCOS as defined by the Androgen Excess & PCOS Society criteria (i.e. Rotterdam Phenotypes A, B and C) who were identified in the clinical setting. Consequently, extrapolation of the present data to other PCOS phenotypes (e.g. PCOS Phenotype D) should be made with caution. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: In hyperandrogenic PCOS phenotypes, a history of amenorrhea, compared to oligomenorrhea or eumenorrhea, suggests a more severe cardiometabolic risk, including a higher degree of hyperinsulinemia and greater prevalence of glycemic abnormalities. These findings may assist in refining the treatment and screening guidelines for glycemic abnormalities in PCOS. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This work was supported in part by grants R01-DK073632 and R01-HD29364 from the NIH and an endowment of the Helping Hand of Los Angeles, Inc. (to R.A.). M.D.P. has no competing interests to declare. U.E. is an investor in Concentric Analgesics, Inc. R.A. serves as a consultant for Spruce Biosciences and Fortress Biotech and an advisor for Aurora Forge. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
C Harrison, ,
Published: 18 January 2022
STUDY QUESTION: What are patients’ and fertility staff views of talking about possible IVF/ICSI failure and need for multiple cycles in treatment planning? SUMMARY ANSWER: Healthcare professionals (HCPs) typically plan treatment on a cycle-by-cycle basis but HCPs and patients see benefits in talking about possible IVF/ICSI failure and the consequent need for multiple cycles to better prepare patients for this possibility, to support them through treatment challenges and to foster a sense of collaboration with the clinic in achieving the shared goal of treatment success. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Many patients need more than one round of IVF/ICSI stimulation to achieve their parenthood goals. About 60% of patients are willing to plan for multiple cycles of treatment in advance of treatment engagement. However, it is not clear how patients are informed about the high possibility of failure and the subsequent need for multiple cycles during their treatment planning consultations, and how approaches could be optimized. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Qualitative focus groups with HCPs working at fertility clinics, patient advocates employed by patient charities (April 2020) and patients (July and August 2020). Patients were eligible if they had had a consultation to start a first/repeat stimulated IVF/ICSI cycle in the 8 weeks prior to participation, were aged 18 or older (upper age limit of 42 years for women), in heterosexual relationships and fluent in English. Eligible HCPs and patient advocates were those employed at a fertility clinic or charity, respectively. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTINGS, METHOD: Focus group topic guides progressed from general questions about fertility consultations to if and how the possibility of treatment failure and need for multiple cycles was introduced and discussed in (attended/own) clinics. After, preferences regarding planning IVF/ICSI on a multi-cycle or cycle-by-cycle basis were explored. Focus groups were recorded, and recordings transcribed and analysed using framework analysis to identify shared, unique and incongruent themes across participant groups. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Twelve HCPs, 2 patient advocates and 10 patients participated in six semi-structured online focus group discussions. All patients were childless and had been trying to conceive for ∼3 years. Framework analysis generated four themes and one meta-theme across participant groups. The meta-theme showed planning IVF on a cycle-by-cycle basis is the norm at clinics and that this affects how treatment is planned and the acceptability of a shift towards planning for multiple cycles, which was perceived as beneficial despite some apprehension. The four themes were: (i) heterogeneity in information provision during treatment planning; (ii) the need for improved HCP-patient collaboration; (iii) the need to temper optimism about treatment success; and (iv) apprehension, benefits and preferences regarding multi-cycle planning. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Most patients were women from private fertility clinics with no previous treatment experience recruited from social media websites, mainly associated with patient support groups. Similarly, most HCPs were women from private fertility clinics. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: The findings suggest that shifting from cycle-by-cycle to multi-cycle approaches in IVF planning is possible. Achieving this shift, like other shifts in IVF (e.g. single embryo transfer), is likely to require collaboration among all stakeholders (e.g. users, staff, policymakers, regulators) to ensure that costs and benefits are balanced through using appropriate benchmarks, avoiding deflating optimism, fostering a sense of collaboration and supporting patients through challenges of multi-cycle IVF. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This research is funded by an Investigator-Sponsor Noninterventional Study from Merck Serono Ltd (MS200059_0010), an affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. ‘Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany reviewed the manuscript for medical accuracy only before journal submission. The Authors are fully responsible for the content of this manuscript, and the views and opinions described in the publication reflect solely those of the authors’. Prof. J.B. reports personal fees from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Merck AB an affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt Germany, Theramex, Ferring Pharmaceuticals A/S, grant from Merck Serono Ltd, outside the submitted work and that she is co-developer of Fertility Quality of Life (FertiQoL) and MediEmo app. Dr S.G. reports consultancy fees from Ferring Pharmaceuticals A/S, Access Fertility and SONA-Pharm LLC, and grants from Merck Serono Ltd, an affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Dr C.H. declares no conflicts of interest. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
Paige L Williams, , , Mary M Lee, Bora Plaku-Alakbarova, , Luidmila Smigulina, Yury Dikov, , Russ Hauser, et al.
Published: 17 January 2022
STUDY QUESTION: Are peripubertal blood lead levels (BLLs) associated with semen parameters and serum reproductive hormones among young Russian men? SUMMARY ANSWER: We observed a suggestion of lower ejaculate volume with higher peripubertal BLL but no associations of BLLs with reproductive hormones measured throughout adolescence or with other sperm parameters measured at adulthood. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Lead is a known reproductive toxicant and endocrine disruptor. Previous literature has shown associations between high lead exposure and poorer semen quality both in occupationally and environmentally exposed men. However, to our knowledge, no longitudinal studies have explored the association of childhood lead exposure with semen parameters and reproductive hormones in young men. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: The Russian Children’s Study is a prospective cohort study that enrolled 516 boys at age 8–9 years in 2003–2005 and followed them annually for 10 years. BLLs were measured at entry and lifestyle and health questionnaires were completed. Reproductive hormones were measured in blood samples collected every 2 years. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Among the 516 boys enrolled, 481 had BLLs measured at entry. Of these, 453 had at least one measurement of serum testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH) (median = 5 samples per boy) and 223 had semen samples collected ∼10 years after enrolment. Semen assessment included ejaculated volume, sperm concentration, progressive motility and total sperm count, and parameters were categorized using published andrology standards for low semen quality based on sperm count and motility. Linear mixed models were used to examine the associations of log-transformed BLLs (and BLL categories) with reproductive hormones and semen parameters, adjusting for potential confounders. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Among the 223 young men with peripubertal BLLs and at least one semen sample (total samples = 438), the median (interquartile range) BLL was 3 (2, 5) µg/dl and 27% had BLL ≥5 µg/dl. Overall, 49% of the semen samples fell below reference levels for sperm count and/or motility. Men with peripubertal BLL ≥5 µg/dl had significantly lower ejaculated volume than those with BLL <5 µg/dl (mean = 2.42 vs 2.89 ml, P = 0.02), but this difference was attenuated in adjusted models (mean = 2.60 vs 2.83 ml, P = 0.25). No associations were observed between BLL measured at age 8–9 years and reproductive hormone levels or sperm parameters, including sperm concentration, total count, progressive motility and total progressive motile sperm count, or with the probability of having low semen quality based on sperm count/motility. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Only a subset of the original cohort participated in the semen quality portion of the study, although inverse probability weighting was used to account for possible selection bias. BLLs were only measured at a single time in peripuberty, and other exposure time periods, including later or longer-term childhood exposure, may be more predictive of semen quality. The young men were also exposed to other chemical contaminants before and during pubertal development. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: While semen volume often receives less attention than other sperm parameters, it is an important component of male fertility. Additional prospective studies covering different exposure windows and including other seminal plasma biomarkers are warranted to explore our finding of potentially lower ejaculated volume with higher BLLs and to confirm the lack of associations for other semen parameters among youth exposed to environmental BLLs. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(s): Funding was provided through grants R01ES0014370 and P30ES000002 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, grant R82943701 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and grant 18-15-00202 from the Russian Science Foundation (O.S and Y.D.). All authors report no competing interests. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
, Taiyao Wang, Zahra Zad, , Tanran R Wang, , Tammy Jiang, Elizabeth E Hatch, Lauren A Wise, Ioannis Ch Paschalidis
Published: 13 January 2022
STUDY QUESTION: Can we derive adequate models to predict the probability of conception among couples actively trying to conceive? SUMMARY ANSWER: Leveraging data collected from female participants in a North American preconception cohort study, we developed models to predict pregnancy with performance of ∼70% in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Earlier work has focused primarily on identifying individual risk factors for infertility. Several predictive models have been developed in subfertile populations, with relatively low discrimination (AUC: 59–64%). STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: Study participants were female, aged 21–45 years, residents of the USA or Canada, not using fertility treatment, and actively trying to conceive at enrollment (2013–2019). Participants completed a baseline questionnaire at enrollment and follow-up questionnaires every 2 months for up to 12 months or until conception. We used data from 4133 participants with no more than one menstrual cycle of pregnancy attempt at study entry. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: On the baseline questionnaire, participants reported data on sociodemographic factors, lifestyle and behavioral factors, diet quality, medical history and selected male partner characteristics. A total of 163 predictors were considered in this study. We implemented regularized logistic regression, support vector machines, neural networks and gradient boosted decision trees to derive models predicting the probability of pregnancy: (i) within fewer than 12 menstrual cycles of pregnancy attempt time (Model I), and (ii) within 6 menstrual cycles of pregnancy attempt time (Model II). Cox models were used to predict the probability of pregnancy within each menstrual cycle for up to 12 cycles of follow-up (Model III). We assessed model performance using the AUC and the weighted-F1 score for Models I and II, and the concordance index for Model III. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Model I and II AUCs were 70% and 66%, respectively, in parsimonious models, and the concordance index for Model III was 63%. The predictors that were positively associated with pregnancy in all models were: having previously breastfed an infant and using multivitamins or folic acid supplements. The predictors that were inversely associated with pregnancy in all models were: female age, female BMI and history of infertility. Among nulligravid women with no history of infertility, the most important predictors were: female age, female BMI, male BMI, use of a fertility app, attempt time at study entry and perceived stress. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Reliance on self-reported predictor data could have introduced misclassification, which would likely be non-differential with respect to the pregnancy outcome given the prospective design. In addition, we cannot be certain that all relevant predictor variables were considered. Finally, though we validated the models using split-sample replication techniques, we did not conduct an external validation study. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Given a wide range of predictor data, machine learning algorithms can be leveraged to analyze epidemiologic data and predict the probability of conception with discrimination that exceeds earlier work. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): The research was partially supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (under grants DMS-1664644, CNS-1645681 and IIS-1914792) and the National Institutes for Health (under grants R01 GM135930 and UL54 TR004130). In the last 3 years, L.A.W. has received in-kind donations for primary data collection in PRESTO from,, Sandstone Diagnostics and Swiss Precision Diagnostics. L.A.W. also serves as a fibroid consultant to AbbVie, Inc. The other authors declare no competing interests. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: N/A.
I Mizrak, L L Asserhøj, M A V Lund, L R Kielstrup, G Greisen, T D Clausen, K M Main, R B Jensen, N G Vejlstrup, P L Madsen, et al.
STUDY QUESTION: Do 8- to 9-year-old singletons conceived after frozen embryo transfer (FET) or fresh embryo transfer (Fresh-ET) have increased arterial stiffness compared to naturally conceived (NC) children? SUMMARY ANSWER: The process of FET or Fresh-ET is not associated with altered cardiovascular function in 8- to 9-year-old singletons, including arterial stiffness, as compared to NC children. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: ART has been suggested to influence cardiovascular risk factors (i.e. endothelial dysfunction, increased arterial blood pressure and insulin resistance). It is not known if ART procedures alter arterial stiffness in singletons. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: A cohort study was carried out, including 8- to 9-year-old singletons conceived after FET, Fresh-ET and NC children (50 children in each group). This study was conducted between November 2018 and August 2020. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: In total, 150 singletons were identified through the Danish IVF Registry and the Medical Birth Registry. They underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) and anthropometric measurements. Parental data were collected using questionnaires. NC children were matched by sex and birth year with FET/Fresh-ET children. Exclusion criteria were congenital heart disease, maternal gestational diabetes or maternal diabetes mellitus. Our primary outcome was arterial stiffness, which is assessed from noninvasive arterial blood pressure and aortic ascendens distensibility. The secondary outcome was the pulse wave velocity of total aorta and exploratory outcomes were left ventricular ejection fraction, mean arterial pressure, cardiac output and total peripheral resistance. Measurements and analyses were performed blinded to the child group. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Aortic ascendens distensibility of children conceived after FET and Fresh-ET did not differ from NC children (mean (SD): FET 11.1 (3.6) 10−3 mmHg−1, Fresh-ET 11.8 (3.0) 10−3 mmHg−1, NC 11.4 (2.8) 10−3 mmHg−1, P > 0.05). Multivariate linear regression was performed to adjust for potential confounders (i.e. child sex and age, maternal BMI at early pregnancy and maternal educational level). Data showed no statistically significant differences between study groups and aortic ascendens distensibility. However, the fully adjusted model showed a non-significant tendency of lowered aortic ascendens distensibility in children born after FET compared to Fresh-ET (β estimate (95% CI): −0.99 10−3 mmHg−1 (−2.20; 0.21)) and NC children (β estimate (95% CI): −0.77 10−3 mmHg−1 (−1.98; 0.44)). Lastly, secondary and exploratory outcomes did not differ between the groups. Primary and secondary outcomes showed good intra-rater reliability. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: This study is possibly limited by potential selection bias as the participation rate was higher in the ART compared to the NC group. Also, in some variables, the study groups differed slightly from the non-participant population. The non-participant population (n = 1770) included those who were excluded, not invited to CMR scan, or declined to participate in this study. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Our findings indicate that children born after FET or Fresh-ET do not have altered cardiovascular function, including arterial stiffness. This is reassuring for the future use of ART. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): This study was funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (grant reference number: NNF19OC0054340) and The Research Foundation of Rigshospitalet. All authors declared no conflict of interests. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: identifier: NCT03719703.
, Jennifer L Bell, Priya Bhide, , Tim Child, Huey Yi Chong, , Christina Cole, Arri Coomarasamy, Rachel Cutting, et al.
STUDY QUESTION: Does a policy of elective freezing of embryos, followed by frozen embryo transfer result in a higher healthy baby rate, after first embryo transfer, when compared with the current policy of transferring fresh embryos? SUMMARY ANSWER: This study, although limited by sample size, provides no evidence to support the adoption of a routine policy of elective freeze in preference to fresh embryo transfer in order to improve IVF effectiveness in obtaining a healthy baby. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: The policy of freezing all embryos followed by frozen embryo transfer is associated with a higher live birth rate for high responders but a similar/lower live birth after first embryo transfer and cumulative live birth rate for normal responders. Frozen embryo transfer is associated with a lower risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), preterm delivery and low birthweight babies but a higher risk of large babies and pre-eclampsia. There is also uncertainty about long-term outcomes, hence shifting to a policy of elective freezing for all remains controversial given the delay in treatment and extra costs involved in freezing all embryos. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: A pragmatic two-arm parallel randomized controlled trial (E-Freeze) was conducted across 18 clinics in the UK from 2016 to 2019. A total of 619 couples were randomized (309 to elective freeze/310 to fresh). The primary outcome was a healthy baby after first embryo transfer (term, singleton live birth with appropriate weight for gestation); secondary outcomes included OHSS, live birth, clinical pregnancy, pregnancy complications and cost-effectiveness. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Couples undergoing their first, second or third cycle of IVF/ICSI treatment, with at least three good quality embryos on Day 3 where the female partner was ≥18 and <42 years of age were eligible. Those using donor gametes, undergoing preimplantation genetic testing or planning to freeze all their embryos were excluded. IVF/ICSI treatment was carried out according to local protocols. Women were followed up for pregnancy outcome after first embryo transfer following randomization. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Of the 619 couples randomized, 307 and 309 couples in the elective freeze and fresh transfer arms, respectively, were included in the primary analysis. There was no evidence of a statistically significant difference in outcomes in the elective freeze group compared to the fresh embryo transfer group: healthy baby rate {20.3% (62/307) versus 24.4% (75/309); risk ratio (RR), 95% CI: 0.84, 0.62 to 1.15}; OHSS (3.6% versus 8.1%; RR, 99% CI: 0.44, 0.15 to 1.30); live birth rate (28.3% versus 34.3%; RR, 99% CI 0.83, 0.65 to 1.06); and miscarriage (14.3% versus 12.9%; RR, 99% CI: 1.09, 0.72 to 1.66). Adherence to allocation was poor in the elective freeze group. The elective freeze approach was more costly and was unlikely to be cost-effective in a UK National Health Service context. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: We have only reported on first embryo transfer after randomization; data on the cumulative live birth rate requires further follow-up. Planned target sample size was not obtained and the non-adherence to allocation rate was high among couples in the elective freeze arm owing to patient preference for fresh embryo transfer, but an analysis which took non-adherence into account showed similar results. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Results from the E-Freeze trial do not lend support to the policy of electively freezing all for everyone, taking both efficacy, safety and costs considerations into account. This method should only be adopted if there is a definite clinical indication. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme (13/115/82). This research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (NIHR unique award identifier) using UK aid from the UK Government to support global health research. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the UK Department of Health and Social Care. J.L.B., C.C., E.J., P.H., J.J.K., L.L. and G.S. report receipt of funding from NIHR, during the conduct of the study. J.L.B., E.J., P.H., K.S. and L.L. report receipt of funding from NIHR, during the conduct of the study and outside the submitted work. A.M. reports grants from NIHR personal fees from Merck Serono, personal fees for lectures from Merck Serono, Ferring and Cooks outside the submitted work; travel/meeting support from Ferring and Pharmasure and participation in a Ferring advisory board. S.B. reports receipt of royalties and licenses from Cambridge University Press, a board membership role for NHS Grampian and other financial or non-financial interests related to his roles as Editor-in-Chief of Human Reproduction Open and Editor and Contributing Author of Reproductive Medicine for the MRCOG, Cambridge University Press. D.B. reports grants from NIHR, during the conduct of the study; grants from European Commission, grants from Diabetes UK, grants from NIHR, grants from ESHRE, grants from MRC, outside the submitted work. Y.C. reports speaker fees from Merck Serono, and advisory board role for Merck Serono and shares in Complete Fertility. P.H. reports membership of the HTA Commissioning Committee. E.J. reports membership of the NHS England and NIHR Partnership Programme, membership of five Data Monitoring Committees (Chair of two), membership of six Trial Steering Committees (Chair of four), membership of the Northern Ireland Clinical Trials Unit Advisory Group and Chair of the board of Oxford Brain Health Clinical Trials Unit. R.M. reports consulting fees from Gedeon Richter, honorarium from Merck, support fees for attendance at educational events and conferences for Merck, Ferring, Bessins and Gedeon Richter, payments for participation on a Merck Safety or Advisory Board, Chair of the British...
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