ICSI Timebomb? Are IVF/ICSI babies more at risk of infertility, obesity and diabetes?

25th February 2010 in IVF

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Many of my patients are only too aware of the emotional and physical toll infertilitytreatment has. So the thought that they may have passed on their infertility to any children born as a result of their treatment is understandably distressing.

The very creator of the ICSI procedure, Dr Andre van Steirteghem, told a conference this week that children born through ICSI – which is where a single sperm is injected into to the egg, rather than it being mixed in a dish as per a standard IVF procedure – are more at risk of obesity, infertility and diabetes when they get older.

He claimed the ICSI procedure was being overused, in 66.7% of assisted conception treatments throughout Europe, compared to traditional IVF which accounts for just over a third. Some experts have voiced concerns about the use of ICSI. Since it overcomes the barrier of male infertility, there are fears that genetic defects which would normally prevent conception might be passed onto the embryo.

The fact is that ICSI should never be a ‘first option’ treatment of choice. The use of ICSI has its place and it should only be used where absolutely necessary. At Manchester Fertility, ICSI is only used where the cause of the infertility has been identified as lying with the male partner and when conventional IVF has failed. It is given along with the appropriate counselling which all of our patients receive.

There is no reason to use ICSI where the male partner does not have any sperm disorders, where there is unexplained infertility or where the cause is with the female partner. In these instances, traditional IVF should always be the first option and at Manchester Fertility this will continue to be the case.

I would also advise anyone looking for infertility treatment to be cautious of using a clinic which performs high rates of ICSI procedures. It could indicate that their conventional IVF results are poor.

For more information on IVF and ICSI, visit our FAQs or Treatments section. You can also find out more details on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority website.

Last updated: 20th January 2020