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Women who become pregnant using donated eggs have at least three times the risk of developing serious complications, a major study has found.

Such cases are four times as likely to suffer pre-eclampsia and have a threefold risk of high blood pressure in pregnancy compared with other women having fertility treatment, according to new research.

Previous studies have suggested increased risks for those who become pregnant using donor eggs - but it has not been known whether the increased dangers are linked to the older age of women who can no longer produce their own eggs.

Most women who seek donor eggs are over the age of 40, with increasing numbers going abroad because of a shortage of donors in this country.

However, the new study of almost 500 pregnancies compared women with an average age of 35 and concluded that the use of a donated egg itself increased risks, regardless of age.

Almost 18 per cent of women who became pregnant following egg donation suffered high blood pressure, the study found, compared with 5 per cent of...