Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Designer babies? Three-parent babies? Here’s what’s next: two-dad (or mom) babies from stem cells.
A team of scientists have reached an incredible breakthrough—they have successfully created identical human egg and sperm cells from the stem cells of human skin, regardless of gender.
This new technique can be used as IVF treatments to solve fertility problems for couples, especially same-sex couples. “While this breakthrough could help men and women who have been rendered infertile by disease, gay groups have also expressed hope that this project will eventually lead to the creation of children made from same-sex parents,” reports Medical Daily.
In addition, the technique can solve certain age-related diseases, or epigenetic mutations, because cells that form sperm and eggs cells do not contain these mutations.
The use of stem cells to create egg and sperm cells builds on a previous study that was published by lead researcher Dr. Azim Surani and his team last year, when they converted mice skin cells into germ cells (a step toward egg and sperm cells). And it’s likely that the procedure may be introduced within two years—although moral and ethical arguments will undoubtedly be raised.
This news comes right on the heels of Britain’s decision to allow the three-parent baby IVF technique, making Britain the first official country to do so in the world. The first baby using the technique — also know as mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) — will be born in 2016.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn
Image: Couple with child via Shutterstock
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Must Read, New Research, Parenting News, Parents News Now
Friday, February 20th, 2015
Choosing the right pediatrician to care for your newborn can be nerve-racking for any parent who wants to make sure they pick a nurturing and thorough doctor.
Like many parents, one couple in Michigan interviewed a number of pediatricians before the birth of their daughter, Bay. Months before she was born, Krista and Jami Contreras decided on Dr. Vesna Roi, and six days after birth, they arrived at the doctor’s office for Bay’s first appointment.
But much to their surprise, the parents were turned away for one reason: they are a lesbian couple.
After spending time in “much prayer,” Dr. Roi concluded that she would not be the best fit for Bay. Another doctor at the practice actually delivered the unexpected news. He offered to take Bay on as his patient, but that did not make the situation any less shocking for the Contreras.
“I was completely dumbfounded,” said Krista, Bay’s biological mother. “We just looked at each other and said, ‘Did we hear that correctly?’” Jami, put it more simply and accurately when she said, “You’re discriminating against a baby? It’s just wrong.”
Months later, Dr. Roi sent a handwritten letter to the parents. The letter did not directly state that she made her decision based on their sexual orientation, but she did explain that she did not judge the couple’s “free choice.”
Krista and Jami did not immediately reach out to the media about their experience, but they finally chose to speak out so that others are aware that instances like this still happen.
Although Dr. Roi’s actions may be discriminatory, they are not illegal. “Currently, 22 states have laws that prohibit doctors from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation. Michigan is not one of these states,” reports USA Today. Also, there is currently no federal law protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination.
This is not the first time a child has been refused something because of a parent’s sexual orientation. Just last month, Brian Copeland and Greg Bullard’s visit with a private preschool was canceled once the administration learned that they were a married couple raising children.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Stuffed puppy with stethoscope via Shutterstock
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Child Health, Must Read, Parenting News, Pregnancy
Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
Research has shown that a mom’s brain activity changes once she brings a new baby into the world. A new study published on May 26 concluded that gay dads’ brains also adapt to parenthood, in fact, their brain activity resembles that of new moms and dads. These findings could mean that adoption agencies will be more willing to work with gay couples. More from TIME:
A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sought to determine whether mothers’ brains became hyper-reactive to emotional cues, like hearing their child cry after birth, because of hormonal changes or parenting experience. Researchers videotaped 89 new moms and dads taking care of their infants at home. They then measured parents’ brain activity in an MRI while the parents watched videos in which their children were not featured, followed by the footage shot in their home with their kids.
The 20 mothers in the study—all of whom were the primary caregivers—had heightened activity in the brain’s emotion-processing regions; the amygdala, a set of neurons that processes emotions, was five times more active than the baseline. The 21 heterosexual fathers had increased activity in their cognitive circuits, which helped them determine which of the baby’s body movements indicated the need for a new diaper and which ones signaled hunger.
The 48 gay fathers’ brain waves, on the other hand, responded similarly to both the heterosexual mom and dad. Their emotional circuits were as active as mothers’, and their cognitive circuits were as active as the fathers’. Researchers also found that the more time a gay father spent with the baby, the greater a connection there was between the emotional and cognitive structures.
Ruth Feldman, the study’s author and a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, wrote that changes in the amygdala occur in women due to pregnancy and childbirth hormones. Men’s brains, which are usually interpreting their child’s needs, only activate the emotion-processing amygdala when the mother isn’t around. For gay fathers, this means that their amygdala is working like a mother’s would all the time.
The researchers also tested levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, in all the parents and found no difference among the three groups. Feldman, an adjunct professor at Yale University, said this means all three groups are biologically ready for parenthood.
“Fathers’ brains are very plastic,” Ruth Feldman, the head of the study, said. “When there are two fathers, their brains must recruit both networks, the emotional and cognitive, for optimal parenting.”
Many U.S. adoption agencies do not accept applications from same-sex couples, and in some states it is against the law for a gay couple to apply jointly for custody of a child. This study suggests that, biologically, gay couples are fit to be parents as straight couples are, and could change the debate as to whether gay men should be allowed to adopt children.
Find out what kind of parent you are or shop newborn baby gifts.
Image via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
Rupert Everett, who is best known for his role in the movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” is taking criticism for comments he made suggesting that gay fathers aren’t suited to the job. From HLN:
Everett, who came out more than two decades ago, went on to say, “She thinks children need a father and a mother and I agree with her.” He then went on to say, “I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads.”
“Some people might not agree with that. Fine! That’s just my opinion,” said Everett, who also said he doesn’t consider himself part of the gay community.
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement, “Since Everett shared his outdated opinion, gay parents, as well as their friends and families, have voiced overwhelming disappointment. Children aren’t hurt when raised by caring gay parents, but they are when uninformed people in the public eye insult their families.”
Image: Rupert Everett, via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
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