Saturday, February 06, 2010

Inheriting infertility via ICSI

I read this article in Times Online today. It states that there is now evidence that fathers of test-tube babies may be passing their infertility on to their sons. Anyone who was trying to conceive back in the mid-90's heard speculation then that ICSI can help couples conceive, but it can't guarantee that if there's a genetic defect causing the man's infertility that it won't be passed on to the child. And why wouldn't it?

So this study goes on to linking ICSI to shorter fingers in boys - a trait they say is known to be associated with infertility. The study compared 211 six-year-olds conceived through ICSI with 195 naturally conceived children of the same age. The boys in the ICSI group had shorter fingers. OK, now let's think about it. ICSI was most frequently used to overcome male infertility. There are other reasons for using ICSI, but that is the reason it was developed and, at least in the past, was its main use - if there were plenty of swimmers, it wasn't really necessary... Then there's this lovely quote from John Manning (and a nearly identical one by Allan Pacey), "This is telling us that we sould only use ICSI when it is absolutely necessary." Um. Maybe what it's really telling us is what we knew all along - genetics are inherited... It isn't the ICSI that's causing the infertility in the next generation, it's the genes the child inherited...

A question to anyone who would contemplate using ICSI on this basis - why, if ICSI can produce a healthy (yet, possibly infertile) child today would you think that in another 25 years or so, when this child wants to become a father, that medical science would not have improved this process and made it even easier to become a father?


miriamp said...

I vote for your take on this -- if genetically infertile people (fathers in this case) have children with medical help, then their children may indeed require the same medical help when their turn comes to want children.

So? The technology exists, B"H, why not use it?

Sara said...

Of course. Being infertile is unpleasant, obviously, but if ICSI can overcome the problem, then it's hardly worth never having been born just to avoid the inconvenience, expense, and stress of having to use ICSI.