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REPRODUCTION/ The doctor: forcing the hand of nature can lead to malformations

Ethics Committee President SALVATORE MANCUSO discusses the results of recent research which found that a child born with assisted conception is more likely to be malformed.

(Infophoto) (Infophoto)

Is a child born with assisted conception more likely to be malformed? This is the question that a team of Australian researchers tried to answer in a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The experts, led by Michael Davies of the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute, took into account the records of more than 300 thousand births and the abortion rate between January 1986 and December 2002. Ilsussidiario.net interviewed Professor Salvatore Mancuso, president of the Ethics Committee of the Policlinico Gemelli in Rome, asking him to comment on the results of the research.

Mancuso, what emerges from the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine?
The authors of this article want to stress one very important fact. When couples have difficulty in reproducing, in some cases this is due to a genetic defect. By forcing the hand of nature to procreate, one potentially takes the risk of conceiving malformed children. This is the case of artificial insemination, in which techniques to forcibly induce ovulation are used, collecting the oocytes and fertilizing them in vitro. This is already a disturbance of a natural phenomenon. The embryo produced in vitro is then implanted in the uterus.

Is there a
direct correlation between difficulty conceiving and the risk of malformations?
Exactly. Nature attempts to avoid pregnancy because the potential for a malformation is in the gametes of the spouses. Sometimes, however, the parents want a child at all costs, not realizing that they potentially risk creating a child that is not perfect because their infertility is a natural mechanism to minimize this possibility. All those involved in assisted reproduction are unable to provide sufficient explanations on this issue to the spouses who turn to them to try and get pregnant at all costs. It should be their duty to inform spouses of this possibility. If there is a problem of a hereditary type and nature does not allow spontaneous reproduction, inducing it and making sure that the embryo that can be obtained in vitro is implanted in the uterus, makes it an unnatural process. Nature had prevented this from happening to protect the couple from this eventuality.

What are the
main diseases that are likely in these cases?