Posted by Claudia Grazioso on June 4, 2012
First, this news should not scare anyone off. Every friend I have who has undergone in vitro fertilization (and there are a lot of them) has gone on to have wonderful, healthy children. In fact, medical experts agree that the overwhelming majority of children conceived using reproductive assistance will be fine. But if you are considering IVF, there is a new study that you might want to be aware of.
A recent study shows that babies born as a result of a certain kind of IVF have a 10 percent chance of being born with birth defects. This procedure is called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. Bluntly, instead of just putting sperm and eggs in a petri dish and letting them do their thing, ICSI involves taking a sperm and actually injecting it into an egg. ICSI is frequently used when male infertility is a factor, but some fertility clinics also use it more frequently as it raises the chances of making more viable embryos. The problem is that this procedure seems to be linked to a higher risk for serious birth defects like spinal problems, urinary tract defects, heart and limb defects and cleft palate. Though these results can be disconcerting, it’s important to remember that the risk for birth defects with ICSI is only slightly higher than the risk associated with children conceived naturally.
Since the study is so new, there are no conclusive answers for why the increased risk is there. But some doctors theorize that with ICSI, sperm that is deficient to begin with is, in effect, being forced to conceive. Also, researchers have also observed an increased risk of birth defects in children whose mothers suffered from infertility to begin with. Finally, most people who seek out IVF are older parents who are also already at a slightly elevated risk for complications. All of these are factors to consider when looking at the results from this new study.
If you are considering or currently undergoing IVF, talk with doctor about any concerns you have, but remember: The vast majority of children born with the help of fertility treatments are just fine.