Monday, October 21st, 2013
The number of women who become pregnant using donor eggs has risen in the last decade, although the number of healthy babies born on time and at a healthy weight remains less than ideal for that group. More from The Associated Press:
That ideal result occurred in about 1 out of 4 donor egg pregnancies in 2010, up from 19 percent a decade earlier, the study found.
Almost 56 percent resulted in a live birth in 2010, and though most of these were generally healthy babies, 37 percent were twins and many were born prematurely, at low birth weights. Less than 1 percent were triplets. Low birth weights are less than about 5½ pounds and babies born that small are at risk for complications including breathing problems, jaundice, feeding difficulties and eye problems.
For women who use in vitro fertilization and their own eggs, the live-birth rate varies by age and is highest — about 40 percent — among women younger than 35.
Women who use IVF with donor eggs are usually older and don’t have viable eggs of their own. Because the donor eggs are from young, healthy women, they have a good chance of success, generally regardless of the recipient’s age.
The average age of women using donor eggs was 41 in 2010 and donors were aged 28 on average; those didn’t change over 10 years.
The study, by researchers at Emory University and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was published online Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association and presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting in Boston.
Image: Pregnant woman, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
The average out-of-pocket cost of fertility treatments tops $5,000, according to a new study of fertility clinics in the San Francisco area. More from Reuters.com:
As expected, researchers found costs were especially high for couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) – over $19,000, on average – and rose with each additional treatment cycle.
“One of the very early questions people ask after we figure out what we need to do to help them get pregnant is how much the treatment is going to cost,” Dr. James Smith, director of male reproductive health at the University of California, San Francisco, and the study’s senior author, said.
That expense, he told Reuters Health, “has a big impact – they’re taking out second mortgages on homes, they’re borrowing from friends and family.”
Smith and his colleagues interviewed 332 couples attending one of eight fertility clinics for their first evaluation and gave each a cost diary to record all treatment-related expenses. They then interviewed the couples three more times over the next year and a half about those expenses, including money spent on clinic visits and procedures, medications and miscellaneous items such as travel and parking.
Among all couples, the average out-of-pocket cost of fertility treatment was $5,338. However, that varied depending on what type of treatment they received – from $595 for basic, one-time procedures such as uterine fibroid removal or counseling about timing sex to $19,234 for IVF, the technique used by a majority of couples.
Expenses were higher for couples who took more time to get pregnant and underwent more treatment cycles, the researchers found.
However, there was no clear difference in out-of-pocket expenses based on whether couples reported having insurance coverage for fertility care, according to findings published in The Journal of Urology.
“Usually insurance companies will cover things like labs, the basic diagnostic testing,” Smith said. “But the expensive items, like in vitro fertilization, that’s much less well covered.”
He said that is the case in California and most other states, but that a few – including Massachusetts and Illinois – require insurance companies to have more extensive coverage of fertility treatment.
According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, women received more than 150,000 cycles of IVF in 2011.
Image: Fertility lab technician, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
The actor Jason Patric was in a California courtroom this week to advocate for the parental rights of sperm donors. NBC News has more:
The “Lost Boys” actor is involved in a heated battle with ex-girlfriend Danielle Schreiber with whom he has a 3-year-old son, Gus — who was conceived using in vitro fertilization.
After splitting up, the never-married couple had different ideas about what role Patric should play in the boy’s life. Schreiber maintains that the pair agreed that Patric’s donation would remain anonymous and that he would not have any rights as the father, she told NBC’s “Today.”
Patric insists, however, that he was always intended to act as a father to Gus. The disagreement resulted in a custody battle.
“I am here mainly because I need to be Gus’ voice, my son, a voice I have not heard in 25 weeks, a voice that is not allowed to mention my name in his mother’s home, a voice that sent me here,” Patric said to committee members, Tuesday.
Patric first took his case to state lawmakers after a judge ruled that he was to be classified strictly as a sperm donor and that he had no paternal rights over Gus — the decision was based on a 2011 state law specifying that sperm donors have no legal parental rights.
“Every single one of us was barred from proving our parentage by this loophole in a law,” Patric said. “We all tried to become parents. We went through great lengths to become parents. I had surgery to become a parent.”
Since the initial verdict, California state Sen. Jerry Hill, who wrote the 2011 state law, has introduced a new bill, SB115, which would allow sperm donors who conceive a child through artificial insemination to establish parental rights if they can prove a certain level of involvement in that child’s life.
Image: Jason Patric, via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
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Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Crowdfunding, the phenomenon whereby people raise money for all manner of business and personal endeavors, is increasingly becoming a resource used by couples who are facing expensive fertility treatments or the costly and complicated adoption process. More from The Huffington Post:
Since May 2010, GoFundMe has helped raise nearly $1.1 million for couples looking to cover the costs of infertility treatments and adoption. Currently, about 100 couples are looking to do the same on GiveForward.
The first “crowdfunded baby,” Landon Haley, was born after his parents conducted a campaign in 2011 that raised $8,050 to help fund infertility treatments.
“Twenty years ago this wouldn’t have happened,” his mother, Jessica Haley, told CNN Money. “Because of the Internet, that’s why we have Landon.”
Fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, can cost upwards of $8,158 per cycle, according to RESOLVE: The National Fertility Association, and one estimate by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine put the figure at $12,400.
Because it can take several rounds of treatment before a woman conceives, costs skyrocket quickly. But insurance companies will only cover so many attempts, if they provide coverage at all. In fact, only 29% of couples said their insurance covered their infertility or adoption expenses, according to a 2012 poll conducted by RESOLVE.
Adoption expenses can lead to even bigger debt. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates the cost can be anywhere from $2,500 to over $40,000 per child.
While couples can subsidize the cost by applying for grants from nonprofits, with aid from employers or by taking advantage of the nearly $13,000 tax credit for out-of-pocket adoption costs, some still seek other means to help foot the sizable bill.
The first adoption-specific crowdfunding site — AdoptTogether — was founded in 2012, and has helped provide over $1 million to 300 adoptive families so far.
Image: Money, via Shutterstock
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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
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