Monday, May 20th, 2013
A new method of performing in vitro fertilization (IVF), one of the most common medical interventions used to help infertile couples become pregnant, has shown promising initial success rates. Developed in London, the new technique involves taking time-lapse photos of embryos as they develop, enabling doctors to choose the most “low-risk” embryos–with the lowest probability of having chromosomal abnormalities or other defects that could stop their growth–to transfer into a hopeful mother-to-be. NBC News has more:
In their study, published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, the team’s chances of producing a successful live birth after in-vitro fertilization (IVF) were increased by 56 percent using the new technique compared to the standard method of selecting embryos that look best through a microscope.
“In the 35 years I have been in this field, this is probably the most exciting and significant development that can be of value to all patients seeking IVF,” said Simon Fishel, a leading fertility doctor and director at the IVF clinic operator CARE Fertility where the technique is being developed.
Independent scientists not involved in the work welcomed it as a significant advance but said full randomized controlled trials – the gold standard in medicine – should be conducted before it is adopted as mainstream practice.
“This paper is interesting because we really do need to make advances in selecting the best embryos created during IVF,” said Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, chair of the British Fertility Society.
“The idea of monitoring embryo development more closely is being used increasingly in clinics around the world and so it is good to see the science involved submitted to peer review and publication,” he added. “All too often, developments in IVF are trumpeted as advances when they remain unproven.”
Experts say that today, as many as 1 to 2 percent of babies in the Western world are conceived through IVF. The standard methods of selecting embryos are based largely on what they look like through a microscope, and many IVF cycles fail because the embryo chosen and transferred to the womb fails to develop.
Image: Petri dish containing embryos, via Shutterstock
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Rachael Clark, who was discarded in a trash can by her birth mother–umbilical cord and placenta still attached–shortly after her birth in 1989, is a remarkable young woman by any standard. Now 23 years old and about to graduate with straight As from the University of Maryland, Clark, who was raised by adoptive parents, is seeking her birth parents…to tell them she forgives them. More from NBC News:
The 23-year-old is so focused and busy that she sometimes forgets about the turmoil that’s dogged her since childhood. “Some days, it’s like it never happened,” Rachael said. “But some days, I really do struggle. I have such strong abandonment issues.”
Her issues stem from the way her life began. On Sept. 27, 1989, the day Rachael was born, she was sealed inside a dark garbage bag with her umbilical cord and placenta still attached. The trash bag was then thrown, hard, into a dumpster.
Minutes before she ran out of oxygen, someone heard her cries and saved her. Her abandonment and rescue in Temple Hills, Md., became one of the most widely publicized stories of its kind — so well-known, in fact, that Rachael overheard people talking about it in front of her when she was about 2.
Now, at this especially happy juncture in their lives, Rachael and her adoptive parents are speaking out about their story. They want to let other adoptive families know how normal it is to need help navigating the delicate process of telling adopted children about their violent or tragic pasts.
They’re also making their story public because, in spite of everything, Rachael has a persistent longing to find her birth parents.
“I just want to be able to tell them that I forgive them,” she said.
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Feminists in Germany are organizing protests around the opening of a life-sized Barbie-themed house in Berlin, citing gender stereotypes that often follow the famous doll. In February, the first ever Barbie-themed restaurant opened in Taipei, Taiwan, to fanfare and excitement, a very different experience from the Berlin property. More from CNN.com:
Left-wing feminists are protesting the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience — a 27,000-square-foot lifesized pink estate — opening in Berlin on May 16.
Located off the shopping district of Alexanderplatz, the Berlin Dreamhouse is meant to show off Barbie’s Malibu lifestyle.
The pink mansion is full of rooms showcasing how her makeup, kitchen and wardrobe are put together.
In addition to viewing 350 Barbie dolls and other displays, visitors can strut a long runway, “bake” virtual cupcakes in a pink kitchen or eat real ones in the cafe. And, of course, shell out for dolls and products in the gift shop.
Protestors from the Left Party are up in arms over the sexism and shallow materialism that they argue Barbie symbolizes.
“They present an image of cooking, primping and singing, as if it were in some way life-fulfilling,” Socialist Alternative editor Michael Koschitzki, 27, told German newspaper Der Spiegel.
“The Barbie Dreamhouse is the expression of a conventional role model that isn’t OK,” he said.
Barbie has long been a subject of controversy — with criticisms ranging from sexism to racism to creating body image issues for girls.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Legislation that would ban adults from smoking in cars where children in car seats are riding, nicknamed the “Little Lungs” bill, is under consideration in Massachusetts. The website Wicked Local has the story:
Rep. Paul Heroux, a freshman representative from Attleboro, wants to make it illegal to smoke with children in the car, citing health risks from secondhand smoke. Heroux said the proposed law could be enforced in a manner similar to the law banning texting while driving.
“If an officer sees it, you are busted,” Heroux said after testifying Tuesday on his legislation (H 1984), dubbed “an act to protect little lungs” and cosponsored by Reps. Mary Keefe, D-Worcester; Thomas Sannicandro, D-Ashland; and Marjorie Decker, D-Cambridge.
Any driver or passenger who violates the law would be subject to a $100 fine. Police officers would not be able to search or inspect a motor vehicle, or its contents, the driver, or a passenger solely because the vehicle was pulled over for the smoking violation, according to the legislation, which would apply to vehicles including children who are required to be secured by a child passenger restraint.
Heroux acknowledged his proposal would not be easy to enforce but said he hopes it would make smokers think twice before lighting up with children in the car.
Heroux also said a smoking ban when children are in the car would raise awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke, which led the Legislature and Gov. Mitt Romney to pass a 2004 law banning smoking in most workplaces.
Image: Cigarettes and pacifier, via Shutterstock
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Morena Baccarin, who stars in the hit Showtime series “Homeland,” is pregnant with her first child with husband Austin Chick. PEOPLE.com has more:
Actress Morena Baccarin, 33, and her husband director/writer Austin Chick are expecting their first child together, her rep confirms to PEOPLE exclusively.
Baccarin — who plays Jessica Brody, the wife of former marine Nicholas Brody on the hit Showtime series — is currently in production for the show’s third season.
Fortunately, the mom-to-be won’t have to worry about balancing a heavy makeup routine with a new baby. When Baccarin — who wed Chick in November 2011 — isn’t busy shooting scenes in front of the camera, she’s “pretty low maintenance.”
Image: Morena Baccarin and Austin Chick, via Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com