Birth defects do not appear to be associated with father's semen quality, says study

Birth defects do not appear to be associated with the father's semen quality, according to a new study at the 109th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA). The study, conducted by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, Stanford University and the Texas Department of State Health Services, will be presented to reporters during a special press conference at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL on Sunday, May 18 at 9:45 a.m. ET.

Approximately 15 percent of couples have difficulty conceiving, and in nearly 40 percent of these couples, the male partner is either the sole cause or a contributing cause to infertility. The treatment of male infertility depends upon the underlying cause, which may include no or low sperm count or poor sperm motility (movement). Assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), can often help. While ART have greatly enhanced the ability of couples to conceive, previous studies suggest an increased risk for congenital defects exists in children conceived using this technology as a result of male infertility factors. Researchers sought to determine if the severity of male infertility, as assessed by sperm quality, had an impact on the rate of birth defects when ART is used.  

Study Details 
Researchers used hierarchical linear modeling to determine odds ratios between birth defects and semen parameters on data collected from the Baylor College of Medicine Semen Database (BCMSD). Before linear modeling occurred, semen analysis data in the BCMSD was linked with offspring data from the Texas Birth Defects Registry (TBDRF) between 1999 and 2009.

Results showed:

  • Of the 6,087 men with linked data between BCMSD and TBDRF  -  1,382 had been evaluated for infertility.
  • Review of these data indicated 109 infants with and 2,115 infants without birth defects. There was no statistically significant association between semen quality and birth defect rates. 

"For couples considering assisted reproductive technology, the results of this study show they should not be concerned about decreased semen quality and birth defects," said Tobias S. Köhler, MD, MPH, FACS; session moderator and associate professor & residency program director with Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  "More than five million happy and healthy babies have been conceived using these techniques."


American Urological Association


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