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ICSI: Recent research on children

Posted by: "Infertility Network" Info@InfertilityNetwork.org

Date: Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:27 am (PDT)


Recent research shows that children born from ICSI are still developing well 8 years after birth. Some previous studies have reported slight developmental delays in both cognitive and motor functions. This study, however, looked at physical characteristics of the children, rather than their social and cognitive development. [Comparing the children to others born without any form of assisted conception] researchers found no difference in the children's weight, height, head circumference or Body Mass Index, and little or no difference - physically or neurologically - in terms of medications taken, chronic diseases or requirements for therapy.

10% of the ICSI children had a 'major congenital malformation' compared with only 3.3% of the control group. 24.1% of ICSI children had a 'minor congenital malformation', compared with 17.2% of the controls. However, when

the results were reassessed by an Australian team - using a different set of definitions - the percentages of major and minor malformations decreased dramatically in both groups, showing that it was perhaps the case that the Belgian groups had a wider definition of what constituted a malformation than other groups would use. And, even though major malformations were found more frequently in the ICSI children, most of these were able to be easily corrected by minor surgery.

'Malformations' similar to those seen in the ICSI children also occur in the 'normal' population and can be caused by many factors, including inheritance, environmental factors or disease, for example.

Researchers did not think that the ICSI technique itself was the cause, although the genetic background and infertility history of the parents (i.e. the factor that may make them need to use ICSI in the first place) may be related.

Overall, the general health of the children studied was 'satisfactory', but it was a small study and there is a need for a larger, multi-centre follow-up study. 'The children represent the first wave born after the introduction of the ICSI technique in 1991. The children are being assessed again at the age of 10. 'We need to check them again later at puberty and afterwards at reproductive age as from a reproductive and genetic point of view there are some concerns for the future, mainly because of fertility problems'.