March 3, 2024


A leading British immunologist has warned that many fertility clinics are offering women an unnecessary, potentially dangerous and possibly counterproductive treatment. Ashley Moffett, of the University of Cambridge, says that many clinics administer steroids or intravenous immunoglobulin to lower the level of uterine natural killer cells — despite the fact that there is scant evidence that this will increase fertility.

“This has somehow slipped through the net of any regulation,” Dr Moffett told Nature Medicine. “It is bizarre that women who may be in early pregnancy are exposed to this sort of risk.” Immunoglobulin has a number of potential side effects, including kidney failure and hepatitis. The UK’s fertility regulator only deals with the creation and handling of embryos, not drug regimes for fertility patients.

“The get-out clause is that [doctors] discuss it with their patient,” says Raj Rai, of Imperial College London. “But this is disingenuous, because how is a patient supposed to decide?”