Fertility Preservation for Pediatric Patients: Current State and Future Possibilities
This review provides an overview of pediatric fertility preservation. Topics covered include the patient populations who could benefit, the current state of fertility preservation options and research, and considerations related to ethics and program development.Materials and Methods:
A broad Embase® and PubMed® search was performed to identify publications discussing investigational, clinical, ethical and health care delivery issues related to pediatric fertility preservation. Relevant publications were reviewed and summarized.Results:
Populations who could benefit from fertility preservation in childhood/adolescence include oncology patients, patients with nononcologic conditions requiring gonadotoxic chemotherapy, patients with differences/disorders of sex development and transgender individuals. Peripubertal and postpubertal fertility preservation options are well established and include cryopreservation of oocytes, embryos or sperm. Prepubertal fertility preservation is experimental. Multiple lines of active research aim to develop technologies that will enable immature eggs and sperm to be matured and used to produce a biological child in the future. Ethical challenges include the need for parental proxy decision making and the fact that fertility preservation procedures can be considered not medically necessary. Successful multidisciplinary fertility preservation care teams emphasize partnerships with adult colleagues, prioritize timely consultations and use standardized referral processes. Some aspects of fertility preservation are not covered by insurance and out-of-pocket costs can be prohibitive.Conclusions:
Pediatric fertility preservation is an emerging, evolving field. Fertility preservation options for prepubertal patients with fertility altering conditions such as cancer and differences/disorders of sex development are currently limited. However, multiple lines of active research hold promise for the future. Key considerations include establishing a multidisciplinary team to provide pediatric fertility preservation services, an appreciation for relevant ethical issues and cost.