Right of Reply: Clare Brown

The head of Child, a national infertility support network, responds to Jeremy Laurance's article on infertility treatment
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The Independent Culture
IN HIS article yesterday, Jeremy Laurance implies that the Intra- Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is not closely regulated or monitored. He also suggests that ICSI is offered in a haphazard way, without concern for children born following the treatment, and that the patient's overwhelming desire for a family outweighs concerns about the safety of the treatment. This is not the case.

Infertility treatment is the most regulated field of medicine in the UK. Any clinic offering treatment, storing gametes or embryos, or carrying out human embryo research, is required by law to be licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - the only statutory body of its kind in the whole world.

I do share some of Mr Laurance's concerns regarding the long-term effects of some forms of infertility treatment. However, I am reassured by the fact that we do have a regulatory body to safeguard patients in the field of licensed infertility treatments.

It is not true that "warnings of potential genetic consequences have zero impact", either on the patients or the clinics. Mr Laurance goes on to state: "The desperate desire for a child guarantees [the issues] will be ignored." The emotional impact of infertility is enormous. However, for those suffering from infertility to be branded as incapable of making decisions regarding their treatment because they are so desperate that all common sense goes out of the window, is downright offensive.

Finally, the article claims that the success rates for ICSI are now 40 per cent higher than for IVF. This statement is incorrect. The latest HFEA annual report states that the average live birth rate for IVF is 16.7 per cent, and for ICSI is 21.6 per cent.

Obviously, infertility treatment such as ICSI must be regulated, and the long-term follow-up of children born as a result is vital. But please, do not make it appear that those suffering from infertility or those working in the field do not care. We do.