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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 04:20 GMT 05:20 UK
Good news for gene-hit men
Sperm
Sperm are hard to find in Klinefelter's men
Men with an extra chromosome in their DNA make-up are able to father genetically normal infants after fertility treatment.

A study of babies fathered by a small number of men with Klinefelter's syndrome found that none carried the abnormality.

A normal human cell has 23 chromosome pairs, but men with Klinefelter's have an extra "X" chromosome pair.

This can lead to a variety of problems, including a round body shape, larger breasts and lack of body hair.

It also causes a lack of sperm, meaning that many men who have the syndrome have little chance of fathering a child by any method.

Extracted

However, in a few men, traces of sperm can be found, sometimes by taking a sample of testicle tissue, and this can be used to fertilise a partner's eggs.

But there have been lingering fears that children produced this way have a strong chance of having the wrong number of chromosomes themselves.

A study presented at a conference in Montreal last month, reported in New Scientist magazine, will prove reassuring for would-be fathers.

No repeat

In a group of 15 Klinefelter's patients trying to produce children using fertility treatment, nine were successful.

And there were no chromosomal abnormalities in any of the 14 babies involved.

The technique involved, ICSI, in which a single sperm is injected directly into the egg, is thought to pass on chromosomal abnormalities from subfertile fathers.

That is why it is expected that ICSI children will be more likely to suffer fertility problems than a standard IVF baby.

One of the boys in the Canadian study did have a severe congenital heart defect, but the cause of this was unclear.

Dr Iwan Lewis-Jones, a consultant andrologist at Liverpool Women's Hospital, said that many Klinefelter's patients had no trace of sperm whatsoever, so would never father a child.

He said: "Theoretically, in those who can father a child, you could get another Klinefelter's child.

"This is reassuring for them."

See also:

27 Oct 01 | Health
29 Jan 02 | Health
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