Fertility Treatment May Raise Birth Defect Risk

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thousands of couples throughout the U.S. have turned to fertility treatments after finding they are unable to conceive a child on their own. In 2009, there were more than 60,000 babies born as the result of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in this country. The treatment has made parenthood possible for many of those in the St. Louis area who would otherwise not be able to have children.

But at the same time, children born from IVF have had higher rates of birth defects. A new study suggests that the problem is not with IVF in general, but with a common technique many fertility clinics use to encourage fertilization of a woman’s egg.

The technique is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI. It involves injecting sperm into an egg, instead of merely mixing sperm and eggs together and allowing them to fertilize on their own. The study, which was published on the New England Journal of Medicine’s website on May 5, found that about 10 percent of infants who were conceived by ICSI were born with birth defects, compared with 6 percent of babies conceived naturally. Babies conceived through IVF but without the ICSI technique were no more likely to develop birth defects than naturally-conceived children.

ICSI was developed for cases where the would-be father has infertility problems, but many clinics do it simply to increase the odds of creating more embryos. Some clinics always perform ICSI. Performing ICSI on a couple’s sperm and egg samples without disclosing the potential risks of doing so could be a form of medical malpractice.

Source: MSNBC, “Birth defect risk rises with some fertility treatments,” Marilynn Marchione, May 5, 2012

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