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Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

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Study Finds Fertility Treatment Not Linked to Most Birth Defects


Along with the medical records of babies conceived through ICSI, Wennerholm and colleagues studied records of babies conceived without fertility treatments, and those conceived through conventional in vitro fertilization. The ICSI babies included 200 sets of twins, and one set of triplets.

Among the ISCI babies, a birth defect was identified in 87 (7.6%). Of these, only eight were considered severe.

Though the findings of only small rates of minor birth defects associated with ICSI are encouraging, concern remains about another aspect of the treatment. Some research has found a missing gene in men with very low sperm counts, suggesting that men with fertility problems who are helped through ICSI may pass on the fertility problem to their sons.

"It's a very important question that we were not able to look at with the kind of study we conducted," Wennerholm tells WebMD. "It will require prospective studies and chromosome analysis, and there are ethical questions to consider."

Wennerholm tells WebMD that her group is continuing to study the health of children born as a result of ICSI. Approximately 600 such children from around the world who have reached the age of 5 will undergo psychological and physical tests of their mental development, brain function, vision and hearing, as well as family relationships. A preliminary report of the study is expected in the next year.

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