Posts Tagged ‘
In Vitro Fertilization ’
Thursday, February 27th, 2014
There’s new hope for moms who have mitochondrial defects that could potentially cause everything from muscular dystrophy, respiratory problems, blindness, organ failure and stroke in their newborns. A new in vitro fertilization technique, known as mitochondrial transfer procedure, combines the nuclear genes from a mother’s egg (that determine traits like hair and eye color) with the mitochondrial genes of a donor woman. When fertilized by the father’s sperm, it causes the baby to have three genetic parents—canceling out the defective genes. So if this new procedure can help make healthier babies, why is it so controversial?
A federal committee that advises the Food and Drug Administration listened to two days of hearings about how the procedure could help birth healthy children (referred to as 3-parent babies), but the concern is that it becomes a slippery slope of human gene manipulation. Once you start manipulating genes, things could be taken even further. If you want a baby with blue eyes, red hair, and tan skin, you can have it! Want a taller, smarter, stronger baby? You can make that happen too! Like a sci-fi movie brought to life.
As reported by CNN, medical ethicist Art Caplan said the same technology could be used to modify an embryo to make “super babies,” a practice he said amounted to “eugenics.”
“The big issue over the next five to 10 years is going to become how far do we go in pursuit of the perfect baby,” said Caplan. “Do I think we’re going down that road? Yes. Does it creep me out? Yes. Are you going to be able to draw a clear line? I don’t think so.”
So the question is: Is this amazing new technology that should be embraced, or feared, and how far is too far? Should women with mitochondrial defects be forced to have unhealthy babies, or be forced to adopt or use other women’s eggs completely in order to have a healthy child? Or is it ok to use a procedure like this as long as the health of the child is the main objective? But who is to say some people wouldn’t think a smarter baby is a healthier baby? A more attractive baby equals a more successful human in the long run (remember the piece I wrote about models and actresses now being the most in-demand egg donors?)? I don’t want to deny anyone a healthy baby, but it does beg the question: where do we draw the line?
TELL US: Do you think gene manipulation is a good—or dangerous—thing?
Image of baby and two moms courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Science is a wonderful and crazy thing! After multiple miscarriages and shelling out a whopping $50,000 on in vitro fertilization treatments that nearly bankrupted them, British couple Mark and Suzanne Harper were running out of options. They wanted a baby desperately, but all cards seemed to be stacked against them. Mark had two bouts of testicular cancer that left him with a sperm count of zero. But Mark’s low sperm count wasn’t the couple’s only fertility problem. They tried artificial insemination and three rounds of IVF before doctors realized Suzanne’s immune system was producing cells that would attack her embryos, making her pregnancies unviable.
After the couple’s sixth ICF attempt that resulted in a miscarriage six weeks in, CARE Fertility Nottingham, where they were receiving treatment, then suggested something pretty bizarre. Suzanne was to be treated with a concoction of a yolk from a hen’s egg and soy oil, known as intralipid. The fatty acids in the combo are thought to prevent the cells from attacking the embryo, therefore leading the way to a successful pregnancy.
The Harpers were surprised by the main ingredient. “But we were willing to try anything to try and have a baby,” Suzanne told the New York Post.
The intralipid, in conjunction with their eighth IVF attempt, brought them their daughter Libby, born in December 2009. When the couple tried to conceive again, they used the yolk technique along with IVF, and on their fourth attempt their second daughter, Connie, was born in December 2013. “And it’s all thanks to egg yolk,” said Suzanne.
TELL US: Would you be willing to try the intralipid technique to get pregnant?
Image of egg yolk courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Monday, December 30th, 2013
You know how the whole world seems to believe that by 35 your eggs have all shriveled up and died, and that even through IVF there’s only a slim chance you could carry a baby anymore because you’re way, way past your prime (even though recent evidence totally dispels that)? Well, here is some hope for everyone who still wants to have a baby after society tells you it is too late. After undergoing IVF treatment, a 60-year-old woman in China gave birth to twins!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Your “woo-hoo!” is immediately followed by, “Wait, should a woman that old be allowed to have children?” In a country like China, which has notoriously had a one-child policy, Sheng Hailin decided later in life she wanted to get pregnant again after her daughter died tragically at 29. She felt a huge hole in her life after her daughter’s loss that she believed only another child could fill. In Vitro Fertilization clinics usually have an age cap for those they will perform procedures on since the chances of getting pregnant do decrease with age, and there’s the child’s welfare to take into consideration. But after convincing a military hospital to give her the treatment, a year later she gave birth to not only one child, but two baby girls, Fox News reports.
The mom, a former medical worker turned traveling health lecturer has had to work longer hours to provide for her kids, now 3. Part of the money from the couple’s pensions and earnings goes towards two babysitters, reports Christian Post Asia, because at 64, the mom has trouble with physical tasks like bathing her two girls. Sheng is China’s oldest mother, but not the world’s oldest. Maria del Carmen Bousada Lara of Spain had twin boys by cesarean section in 2006 at age 66.
TELL US: Are you happy to hear that it’s possible to still get pregnant at 60, or do you think that children of parents that old suffer?
Image of twins courtesy of Shutterstock.
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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!
Use our Ovulation Calculator to see when you’re most likely to get pregnant. Then, see the 13 tell-tale signs you’re expecting.
Image of twins courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Bed rest, C-section, Cesarean Section, fertility, Gestational Diabetes, In Vitro Fertilization, infertility, IVF, Multiples, Preeclampsia, Preemies, pregnancy, pregnant, Spotting, Twins | Categories:
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.
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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Image of woman courtesy of Shutterstock.