Dr Kirsty Horsey
Progress Educational Trust
30 October 2002
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and Medical Research Council (MRC) have confirmed press claims that a working group has been established to conduct a program of research looking at potential long-term health effects of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and related treatments.
The working group is chaired by senior epidemiologist Professor Catherine Peckham. It has been set up as a response to a number of studies and reports which express concerns that some of the more modern adaptations of IVF, such as ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) and egg or embryo freezing, may be linked to slightly higher rates of birth defects than natural conception. Although any increased incidence is very small, the HFEA believes that it is important some studies be established to determine what, if any, the potential risks are. Advice is currently being taken about how such a study could be undertaken, given the tight confidentiality rules that the HFEA must adhere to.
In a statement released by the HFEA, issued in response to a number of exaggerated claims in the press, Dr Maureen Dalziel, the chief executive, said 'there is no need for people who have had children with fertility treatment to be worried'. She added 'there is simply a lot we don't know and we believe further studies are important. The notion that 'IVF children' need health checks is ludicrous.' The HFEA and MRC working group is deciding how to carry out the research studies, which are expected to begin late next year.
© Copyright Progress Educational Trust
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.
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