BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: In Depth: Fertility conference 2001  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Fertility conference 2001 Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Genetic fears over sperm retrieval
Artificial insemination
Technique may increase the risk of abnormalities
The largest-ever study of a fertility technique using sperm extracted from the testicle has found resulting foetuses have more genetic abnormalities.

They also appear to be more at risk of physical malformations, prompting researchers to call for the creation of a European register to keep records of children born using this method.

Clinics in many European countries automatically screen embryos created this way for signs of chromosomal aberrations, and discard those with obvious abnormalities.

However, in France, the source of this research, and Germany, such screening is outlawed.

The sperm extraction method, or TESE, uses a thin tube to suck out immature sperm cells called spermatozoids inside the testicle.

The method is used to help men who cannot naturally ejaculate sperm, or who have no sperm in their semen.

The immature sperm are then injected into the egg to fertilise it using a technique called ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection).

Terminations chosen

However, the French team, examining hundreds of babies born using this method found that those spermatozoids taken simply from testicular tissue were more likely to produce foetuses which had physical abnormalities. Many of these were terminated or miscarried naturally.

In addition, amniocentesis testing of women made pregnant using TESE sperm found an eightfold increase in chromosomal malformations.

Most of these were new - not simply passed down from either mother or father.

Although the parents opted for termination on learning the news in most cases, if left to develop, these foetuses might have suffered from chromosomal conditions such as Down's syndrome and Turner's syndrome, which causes infertility in women.

Dr Mira Bajirava, who presented the research, said: "This is the largest series of patients ever gathered the level of chromosomal abnormalities was significantly increased in the testicular group compared to the total ICSI group.

"The results do not debar the use of TESE, but a systematic amniocentesis should be undertaken in each case."

Some reassurance

Earlier in the day, other research teams presented studies suggesting that overall, ICSI did not produce as high a level of physical malformations as had been feared by some scientists.

A slight increase over normally-conceived children, believe scientists, probably reflects the genetic weaknesses of the subfertile fathers rather than any damage caused by the ICSI process itself - although this has not been proven.

Concerns remain over the future mental development and fertility of the ICSI children, although it is currently too early to tell.

See also:

23 May 01 | Health
07 Dec 00 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Fertility conference 2001 stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Fertility conference 2001 stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes