Watch for High Blood Pressure in Women Who Use Donor Eggs for IVF

July 7, 2014

The risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension is more than 3 times higher in women who become pregnant using a donor egg, research confirms.

The risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension is more than 3 times higher in women who become pregnant using a donor egg, compared with women who undergo routine IVF using their own eggs.

Details of the finding were revealed during the presentation of a study by Dr Hélène Letur of the Institut Mutualiste Montsouris in Paris at the 30th Annual Meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology held in Munich.

Pertinent Points

- Women who conceive using a donated egg are 3 times more likely to have pregnancy-induced hypertension than women who undergo IVF using their own egg.

- Clinicians should be extra vigilant in screening pregnant women for hypertension who have relied on egg donation.

- This large study, conducted in France, confirmed previous findings.

The study confirms what other researchers have already reported, Letur said.

"A few other studies have shown results suggesting an increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension in egg donation patients," said Dr Letur. "However, most of them have small samples and do not adequately control for several important confounders, such as women's age, multiple pregnancy, and infertility history.”

In seeking to validate the previous findings, the French study enrolled 580 women, including 217 women who became pregnant through egg donation.

Letur and colleagues were able to better control for maternal age because they conducted the study in France, where egg donation in the social security system is restricted to women younger than 43 years. For the study, the average age of the patient was 34.5 years, and the most frequent reason for seeking a donor egg was premature ovarian failure or premature menopause. In addition, the researchers said their analysis showed a modest effect of patient age but no significant effect from previous pregnancy, previous IVF cycles, or frozen embryo transfer.

Gestational hyptertension was defined as a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg without proteinuria on at least 2 occasions after 20 weeks' gestation. Pre-eclampsia was determined as 140/90 mm Hg with proteinuria on repeated readings after 20 weeks, and eclampsia was set at 160/140 mm Hg with proteinuria on repeated readings after 20 weeks.

Specifically, the researchers found that the prevalence of hypertension rose from 5.3% to 17.8% when women who underwent IVF treatment used a donor egg (odds ratio, 3.84; 95% CI, 1.89-7.77).

The results led Letur and colleagues to conclude that egg donation alone is a risk factor for pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia and to recommend that clinicians take the findings into account during prenatal care.

Clinicians should be mindful of preventive measures, such as screening for other hypertension risk factors (eg, obesity and diabetes), and early treatment if gestational hypertension is detected, she noted.