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Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
With IVF treatments, twins have basically become the new norm—46 percent of IVF births are multiples, mostly twins. But now fertility experts want to change that. The new goal: single births, even when using IVF. Why? Twins have a much higher risk of being preemies and having serious health problems that could potentially last a lifetime.
The most recent info from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 37 percent of IVF babies, who are multiples, are born premature, while only 3 percent of babies born without fertility treatments are twins, and of those about 12 percent are preterm.
Many women who’ve struggled to have kids are excited to have twins—even asking their physicians for twins—because they may not have the money for multiple IVF treatments (each round can cost up to $20k!), or they would love to have two kids at once, and never have to go through pregnancy again! But doctors fear that couples are making a rash decision without really knowing the increased medical risks for babies and moms (risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are higher).
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s recent guidelines state that women should be counseled on the risks of multiple births and embryo transfers and that this discussion should be noted in their medical records. According to the guidelines, “for women with reasonable medical odds of success, those under 35 should be offered single embryo transfer and no more than two at a time.” They are open to more embryos being implanted, if the woman is over 35.
According to Valley News, with stronger screening of embryos, success rates for single embryos could be nearly as good as when two or more are used, say experts. The new techniques include maturing the embryos a few days longer, improving viability and allowing cells to be sampled for chromosome screening. Embryos can be frozen to allow test results to come back and more precisely time the transfer to the womb.
Taking these steps with single embryos results in fewer miscarriages and tubal pregnancies, healthier babies with fewer genetic defects and lower hospital bills from birth complications, many fertility specialists say.
I’m really torn on this subject, because I don’t think any of us want more Octomoms running around out there, or kids with health problems. But—and it’s a big but—all of the women I’ve known who’ve had IVF (and I should note that all of them have been over 35), have had twins, and are beyond thrilled with their decision to have multiple embryos implanted. Many of them did have complicated births—including extended bed rest, spotting, C-sections, and breathing problems in the children that caused them to stay in NICU for weeks, up to months after their births.
All of that said, as far as I know every single one of them is a happy, healthy kid with no lingering medical issues (at least so far—fingers crossed!). And even though the pregnancies and births were more complicated, required more doctor visits, and now they have twice the expenses with two little ones running around at the same time, the parents’ love for their two cuties made all of that initial anxiety worth it for them, and they would never, ever want to have traded that experience in for a single birth.
TELL US: Do you think women should be discouraged from having twins? Do you have twins? Tell us your story!
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Baby Names: How To Name Twins and Multiples
Bed rest, C-section, Cesarean Section, fertility, Gestational Diabetes, In Vitro Fertilization, infertility, IVF, Multiples, Preeclampsia, Preemies, pregnancy, pregnant, Spotting, Twins | Categories:
Monday, December 2nd, 2013
The Huffington Post UK is reporting that a pregnant 35-year-old Italian woman in England for a work trip was ordered by Essex’s Court of Protection to have a Cesarean section against her will. And it gets worse! She was then forced to put her child up for adoption. Scary, right? The court says it was all done to protect her unborn child. Why? The woman—who is the mom to two other girls—has Bipolar disorder, and if she fails to take her meds she can have manic episodes and paranoid delusions.
She had what appears to be a breakdown at a hotel and was taken into custody. The court ordered the C-section, and the baby was taken by social workers the following day. Another judge began the adoption process for a British couple to take full custody of the child—despite the mom being back on her meds, with a job, home, and family support (her 11 and 4 year old are being raised in Italy by her parents). She testified that having her daughter taken away is what finally made her accept that she is in fact bipolar, and got her back on her medication.
The mom, whose daughter is now 15 months old, plans to continue to challenge the adoption, in hopes that she and her baby can return to Italy, so her entire family can be together. I know the intention was to “save” the baby, but this sounds like a total violation of the mom’s human rights to me. A forced Cesarean section? That sounds like something that would happen in a barbaric nation, not England!
Mental health is a serious issue—and more help and insurance coverage should be devoted to it, IMHO—but why not notify the woman’s parents in Italy, so the baby could grow up with her sisters? Why rip her from the arms of her mom, and out of her siblings’ lives? I don’t get it! Where’s the common sense here? They are supposed to be the family court, but they clearly don’t value the importance of family.
TELL US: Do you think the Court of Protection did the right thing, or was it a huge human rights violation?
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Apparently, in our looks-obsessed society, struggling actresses and models in New York City are now the “it girls” for couples undergoing IVF. According to the New York Post, “In an industry where attractiveness is a prerequisite, and steady income is hard to come by, actresses often are an egg agent’s perfect target.” In fact, ads are even being placed on acting trade sites like BackStage.com to entice women looking for work to donate their eggs at a premium. The beautiful wannabes are being paid anywhere from $8,000 to $20,000 for their egg donations—much more than your average bartending actress would make in a month.
It’s like there’s this whole underworld designed to find eggs for rich people—like a black market, only legal. “Egg agents” do a full background check that includes school transcripts and SAT scores, blood tests for diseases, and a psych exam. The higher the woman’s GPA and SAT scores, the higher her payday.
But it’s not exactly easy money. A prospective donor is put on hormones for two to nine weeks to increase her egg production, and the harvesting of eggs for IVF can be very painful. After the surgery, she is left feeling sore and bloated, and as of yet researchers do not know if there are any long-term effects associated with donating eggs. What they do know is that you lose eggs, and it increases your risks of developing cysts. Because of that, there are rules in place that only allow a woman to make six donations in her lifetime.
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Those donating the eggs are of course also helping to bring life into the world. But they will likely never know for sure if children were born from their donated eggs, because donors often sign waivers saying that they will not be notified of the outcome. Sperm donors have been around forever and are now becoming trendy with movies like Vince Vaughn’s Delivery Man, and MTV’s show Generation Cryo—which follows a girl and her 15 half-siblings as they try to find their sperm donor dad. So it’s no surprise that egg donors are now in demand, especially considering more than 7.3 million couples in the US struggle with infertility.
Does wanting to have attractive egg donors make us as a society superficial or smart—thinking of survival of the fittest in every sense of the word?
TELL US: Are you surprised actresses’ and models’ egg donations are in demand? Would you choose a pretty donor over a less attractive one?
NEXT: If you got pregnant today, what would your due date be? Find out!
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Friday, November 22nd, 2013
What if there was a test you could take—at home without having to go into an infertility clinic—that could tell you your chances of IVF success? What if instead of spending up to $20k per cycle of IVF, you’d know how likely you’d get pregnant before going through IVF for only $49.50? I know it sounds a little too good to be true (and it could be—this is in no way an endorsement of the product because I haven’t tried it), but after meeting with Dr. Mylene W. M. Yao, a Harvard-trained reproductive endocrinologist, it sounds like the technology might already be available.
She and her team have created what they claim to be a cost-effective IVF success predictor for those who haven’t tried IVF yet (Univfy PreIVF), and for those who already have unsuccessfully (Univfy PredictIVF, a more complicated analysis for $175), and want to know whether their odds of eventual success are high enough for them to put in the added expense of another round of costly IVF.
Univfy’s products—which are three years in the making—take into account multiple factors beyond just age. Dr. Yao explains, “It looks at BMI, reproductive history (whether you’ve had pregnancies or miscarriages in the past), ovarian function, semen function, smoking history, etc and analyzes them together against data from tens of thousands of IVF cycles to provide them with a personalized prognosis that’s 1,000 times (on a likelihood scale) more accurate than age-based estimates alone.”
While recent studies now say, your chances of getting pregnant after 35 aren’t actually abysmal, like we’ve been told for years, Dr.Yao says age is still a factor in fertility. “There’s no question, as each woman ages, her ovaries’ functions are going to decline,” says Dr. Yao, who has more than 15 years of experience in reproductive medicine and embryo and uterine biology research, has been published in reputable scientific journals, and is a former faculty member at Stanford University. ”But for each woman, that decline is happening at a different rate. Someone at 38’s ovaries could be functioning really well, and another 38 year old’s ovaries may not be.”
Univfy’s prediction models actually show more than 60 percent of the women who use them have a higher probability of IVF success than their age-based estimates alone suggest. That in itself can cause some relief in women trying to get pregnant in their 30s and 40s. I’m Ms. Prepared, so I like the idea of being realistic about what your chances of getting pregnant might be, because IVF always seems to be the great unknown.
As Dr. Yao points out, “People think IVF is a roll of the dice,” she says. “You just go try it, and wonder, ‘Why does it work for some people and not for others?’ But there is rhyme and reason to it all. We can’t remove all the uncertainty—it’s not like a crystal ball—but giving women more information about their chances of getting pregnant empowers them to be able to take charge of their reproductive decisions, and make ones that make the most sense for them financially as well, since IVF is such an expensive process and many clinics offer package deals.”
That’s right, fertility clinics do bargain bundles—just like cable companies and fast food joints. A package might be three rounds of cycles, or five. So if a program can narrow down the likelihood of getting pregnant from IVF, you can make a more informed decision on how many cycles you might need, which would save you money in the end. Now the question is: Would you want to know your chances of having IVF work before actually trying it? Or would you rather go in blindly with all of the hope in the world? Only you can decide.
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TELL US: Do you think a computer program can predict IVF success? If so, would you want to know your chances of IVF success before you went for IVF treatment?
Image of woman with pregnancy test courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
This is proof that a mama-to-be is a total warrior and can—and will—do anything to save her baby! While the Philippines was being ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan’s 20-foot storm surges and winds that went up to 170 miles per hour, a 21-year-old pregnant woman was swimming for her life, and that of her soon-to-be daughter’s.
Emily Ortega was in an evacuation center all by herself (her husband was away in the Philippines’ capital of Manila), when the storm flooded her city of Tacloban and the evacuation center she was staying in. The waters picked her up, but she fought back, swimming her hardest and clinging to a post so she would not be washed away and drowned like the 10,000 victims feared to be killed by the typhoon.
I can’t even imagine the panic that must have been running through her entire body. Feeling the water rising, the natural pull of it, taking her further and further from safety. What must have been running through her mind—the fears, the prayers. But she had to put that all aside to concentrate on her precious cargo, and what she needed to do to get them both to safety.
Emily managed to maneuver her way to a dilapidated airport—where her labor was assisted by military medics. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl, named Bea (as a dedication to Emily’s mom, who is still missing). Baby Bea’s middle name is appropriately enough, Joy, because when she was born, survivors of the typhoon cheered. It was as if her birth was a beacon of hope, a sign of rebirth, and a start to the rebuilding that will take years for the Philippines to fully recover. More than 9 million people have been affected by the storm, according to the United Nations, and more than 660,000 have been displaced.
But in the midst of all of that devastation, Emily and her husband have their little bundle of Joy to be thankful for; their own little miracle.
If you’d like to help those in need in the Philippines, you can donate to the Salvation Army here or Unicef here.
TELL US: Do you think you would have been as strong as Emily during a typhoon? Do you have loved ones who may have been affected by the disaster in the Philippines?
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birth, childbirth, Emily Ortega, Miracle baby, natural disaster, Philippines, pregnant, Tacloban, Typhoon, Typhoon Haiyan | Categories:
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