Background: There have been reports suggesting that children born after in-vitro fertilisation by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are at increased risk of neurodevelopmental delay. We have undertaken a case-control study of this issue.
Methods: We studied 208 singleton children conceived by ICSI and a control group of 221 normally conceived singleton children. Children were recruited from 22 fertility centres and local nurseries throughout the UK. Controls were selected to match cases as closely as possible for social class, maternal educational attainment, region, sex, and race. The primary outcome measure was neurodevelopmental scoring; secondary measures were perinatal outcomes, postnatal health, and congenital abnormalities. A single examiner assessed all the children.
Findings: A follow-up rate of 90% for the ICSI group was achieved at a mean age of 17 months. No difference between the study children and controls was found in mean neurodevelopmental scores (98.08 [SD 10.93] vs 98.69 [9.99]) or any subscales on the Griffiths' scales of mental development. Perinatal outcome was similar apart from a higher rate of caesarean section (73 [35.1%] vs 53 [24.0%], p=0.015) and a lower mean birthweight (3163 [SD 642] vs 3341  g, p=0.013) in the study group. Rates of major congenital abnormality were also similar overall (ten [4.8%] study vs ten [4.5%] control), although there were significantly more congenital anomalies among children born to fathers with oligozoospermia than in other children.
Interpretation: This population study did not show any significant difference between children conceived after ICSI and their naturally conceived peers in terms of physical health and development.