Baby on back

According to, “About 3% to 4% of all babies born in the United States have congenital abnormalities that will affect the way they look, develop, or function—in some cases for the rest of their lives.” The defects are both genetic and due to complications during pregnancy. Those that cannot have a traditional pregnancy may be at an even higher risk for abnormalities. Research has found that couples using, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), may experience a higher rate of congenital disabilities.

The New England Journal of Medicine study found that: “When we looked separately at births resulting from fresh embryo cycles versus frozen embryo cycles of IVF or ICSI as compared with births to fertile women, we found a significant increase in the risk of birth defects associated with fresh embryo cycles but not with frozen embryo cycles.”

ICSI is a male infertility treatment that essentially forces the sperm to fertilize the egg. The risk varies with the type of embryo chosen in the process. Studies from the New England Journal of Medicine showed an increase in congenital disabilities with fresh embryos use; there was a lower increase in birth defects when the embryos were frozen and later transferred. In about 10 percent of the babies born using ICSI has some disability, vs 3-4% of babies conceived naturally.

Embryos with potential defects may be less likely to survive the freezing and thawing process resulting in a selection of healthier embryos with fewer defects.

Embryo Adoption is an option that poses a risk as all fertility treatments do. But, there is no research indicating a higher risk of birth defects from the general population.

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