Expert warns IVF is producing a new generation of infertile Australian children who will require expensive medical treatment to produce their own offspring.

University of Newcastle laureate professor, John Aitken, also warned of ongoing health problems with IVF children, suggesting that male children of ageing fathers who used assisted pregnancy procedures were prone to cancer, reports SMH.

One in every 25 Australian children are now born as a result of IVF.

He said the trend to IVF raised equity issues in how much money society should pay helping couples have children and research was revealing previously unsuspected health risks such as increased cancer rates among boys whose fathers – but not mothers – smoked and used assisted conception techniques.

“We should guard against recklessly marching into a future where we use too much assisted conception in order to compensate for our loss of fertility,” he said.

“Its an inexorable upward trend. We are taking recourse to IVF in increasing numbers and the thing we have to remember as a society is that the more you use assisted conception in one generation, the more you’re going to need it in the next.”

Dr Aitken is world-renown for his work on the largely neglected field of male reproduction.

Delivering a lecture at the BoschInstitute, Human fertility: How Lifestyle, Affluence and the Medical Profession are killing our Species, Professor Aitken criticised the IVF industry for ignoring the fact that failure to conceive stemmed largely from male fertility problems.

He said the human male was not a very fertile individual.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – binding a sperm cell to an egg – was an IVF procedure now being used by many couples.

But the reproductive biologist said new ICSI research coming out of Belgium showed there may be a price to pay:

“There is a negative pay-off. If you have a son from this process it is possible that he too will have the same pathology that you had.”

“We cannot change their fundamental biology,” Prof Aitken said.

“The average age of women in IVF is 36/7 years. If you’re contemplating a family when you’re close to the edge, IVF cannot fix you up. IVF live birth rates decline from 35 to 42 exactly the same way in naturally conceived population.

“The unfortunate thing is that the biology doesn’t understand that narrative.”

Share your comments below.

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  • An interesting read. Wonder if this info will impact the choice of ivf ?


  • I will be interesting to see if more research is carried out in the near future. Some of this seems to relate to the age of the father. If donor sperm is used do they record the date and other health matters of the donor, also that of the women who receives it. Both men and women can be effected by the smoke around them, They may not necessarily be smokers themselves. It may be very difficult to add that into the equation.


  • A very interesting article. I have no doubt Professor Aitken is correct, but at the same time infertile couples will still go ahead with this procedure in order to have a child.


  • interesting article, it would be a real shame if this is the case :(

    Hope there is good news for the people that use ivf and their children


  • Only time will tell if these children will have problems. I hope they don’t though!


  • I hope all works out well for these kids


  • Indeed this makes sense. Overcoming fertility will come with it’s downfalls!


  • I had my daughter exactly with the procedure they are mentioning: the ICSI. And I had read indeed about the risks boys could face. Who knows if it’s really true.


  • There was always going to be some sort of long term risk in messing with things but by the same token the risk has outweighed the negatives associated with increased health risks.


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