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    •  Should there be an age limit on Assisted Reproduction Techniques, such as IVF? Or is parenthood a fundamental human right? This series in Toronto newspaper, The Star, does a wonderful job looking at all sides of the issue, including from the medical standpoint and from the children’s perspective. Is assisted reproduction technology today what birth control was to the 1960s: Irreversible, positive change allowing women to become moms at whatever age works for them without the impediments of biology? The article quotes a woman as saying that egg freezing, which allows a woman to preserve her healthy eggs until she is ready for a child, will “lead to true women’s liberation.” Hummm?!? Also check out the Creating a Family show 2 weeks ago exploring this same question of How Old is Too Old to Become a Parent?
    • New study in the Journal of Pediatrics calls for a mandate for single embryo transfers for IVF due to increased risk for babies and cost. Researchers studied one NICU for two years and found that 82 infants (17%), admitted to this NICU were from multiple births resulting from some form of assisted reproductive technology. Of these, 75 were twins or triplets whose mothers used IVF. As Dr. Barrington notes, "Among these 75 babies, there were 6 deaths, 5 babies who developed a brain bleed, and 4 babies who developed a potentially blinding eye condition."
    • We are used to thinking about fertility tourism as Americans going abroad for cheaper fertility treatment or surrogacy, but the travel can go both ways. Couples from abroad coming to the US to hire a surrogate. Interesting, the children are born with automatic US citizenship. LA Times "Born in the USA.
    • Documentary filmmaker is looking for single midlife women seeking to become first-time mothers willing to share their stories of the heartache, trials, social stigma and joys faced in their journeys toward motherhood. She does not care whether the women are straight or lesbian, nor whether they are seeking to adopt or have a child through donor sperm, donor egg, or surrogacy. The producer is herself a single, midlife woman "with an ever-present desire to become a mother". contact her at rmcclainla at sbcglobal. net.
    • Fascinating article in The Jewish Press about how Judaism treats the issue of egg donation and surrogacy. If the egg donor is not Jewish will the child need conversion if it is to be brought up as a Jew. Is the child Jewish if the surrogate is Jewish? The answer is not as clear as you might think. Really interesting stuff here. Please pass this on to others.
    • Do you remember Carolyn Savage, the woman who had a baby in Sept. 2009 from another couples embryo after an accidental mix-up at their infertility clinic? She and her husband gave the baby to his biological parents. (We did a Creating a Family show on this topic in fall 2009 and caused up to develop a fact sheet for infertility patients "Top Ten Tips for Avoiding Medical Mistakes, Errors, and Mix Ups in Infertility Treatment".) Savage, a mom of three, was unable to carry another pregnancy after the September 2009 birth. She and her husband announced that they are now expecting twins via surrogacy due in August. Talk about a feel good story!
    • Elizabeth Banks, of 30 Rock Fame, in a new mom via gestational surrogacy to a beautiful boy named Felix. Her 30 Rock character Avery Jessup is a new mom in the show as well.
    • As is often the case, the media reports the sensational, which often doesn't reflect the normal. Such may be the case with the reports of 1 sperm donor producing 150 children. Read this thoughtful blog by Dr. Michelle Ottey , with Fairfax Cyrobank, on how the modern world of sperm donation really works. Patients have a choice. Ask the questions and choose those sperm banks that abide by the ASRM guidelines.
    • Ishani Ticinelli, a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at Fordham University, sent me the following request. "I am working on my dissertation investigating the psychosocial impact of infertility on African American women. If you know of any African American women who, if under 35 years of age have, after one year of well-timed intercourse been unable to ......conceive or carry to term, OR if over 35 years of age have, after 6 months of well-timed intercourse been unable to conceive or carry to term, please have them contact me by email at bhattacharyy @ fordham.edu. I understand that this may be a difficult topic to discuss. All interviews will be private and confidential. Many women have been dealing with this experience in isolation. This study could help better inform medical and mental health professionals who work with women suffering from infertility and create supports for them. All participants who complete interviews will be given $50 for their time. Thank you in advance for your help.
    • Many women either need to or want to wait until later in life to start a family. They know that their biological clock is ticking away and that their fertility decreases with age.There is a growing demand for in home “pee on the stick” type tests for predicting how many reproductive years a woman has left., Since a major cause of reproductive aging is the aging of the ovary, most of the focus has been on looking at markers of ovarian aging -- such as FSH or AMH -- as a potential fertility test.New research calls into question the effectiveness of such tests.
  • What environmental factors can affect sperm production? Do you need to worry about radiation from the Japanese nuclear disaster. Check out this article.
  • Absolutely wonderful radio interview on National Public Radio show "All Things Considered" Taming The Twin Trend From Fertility Treatments. One of our repeated messages here at Creating a Family is that twins and higher order multiple births are not the desired goal of fertility treatment due to the risks of twin births. Infertility patients desperate to have a child often overlook these risks, until they happen to them. Please help spread the word with this terrific 8 minute interview and with our Creating a Family podcast on reducing multiple births.
  • Alexis Stewart, 45, Martha Stewart's daughter is the proud mom of a daughter, Jude, born via surrogacy on March. Alexis, who is single, started IVF in 2007 and acknowledged that she was spending around $27,000 a month on fertility treatments. Grandma Martha said, "Martha, 69, told her fans: 'I stopped in last night after a business trip and I got to see her when she was about 36 hours old - she is very alert and doesn't cry. Ideal baby." Sounds like what a grandmother would say. :-)
  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a new texting service, Text4baby, where pregnant women and new moms can receive free text messages each week with information for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
  • How do you define family? Read one gay man's definition in a touching article in Newsweek: Meet My Real Modern Family.
  • This National Institute of Health website provides information on clinical trials on Primary Ovarian Insufficiency/ Premature Ovarian Failure (POI/POF). It also has some great resources explaining why the name change from POF to POI.
  • An Iowa House Subcommittee has advanced a bill, HF 153, which would give constitutional rights to embryos. A good article in the Iowa Independent explains the ramifications of this bill. (My thanks to Reproductive Law attorney Amy Demma for pointing out this article.) The bill now goes to the Human Resources Committee, and then very likely to the full GOP-controlled House, where it has a good chance of being approved. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology sent a thoughtful and well reasoned letter to various Iowan officials. They laid out the reasons why this type of legislation is harmful to many and helps few. It is so worth the read. We have reprinted it in full on our Advocacy page.
  • Interesting article in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review titled "Debate swirls around overseas surrogacy". Although it is less about the debate and more about the actual practice, it is still worth the read and is a good summary of why US couples often turn international surrogacy.
  • Great and insightful article in the Huffington Post titled Infertility: The Disease We Need to Start Talking About It seems that for most men and women facing infertility, it's easier to deal with something so emotionally, physically, and financially draining without having to field questions and opinions from every well-meaning friend, co-worker, or family member. Such comments like "Just go on a vacation, relax, and you'll get pregnant," or "You can always adopt," are far too painful to even acknowledge, so people figure that by remaining silent they'll avoid opening themselves up to such commentary in the first place.

    It doesn't help matters that there's no general consensus on how to label infertility. In 2009, the World Health Organization officially defined infertility as a disease. Yet many individuals, organizations, and insurance companies still say that having children is a lifestyle choice and that infertility is not a serious medical issue. Some even liken fertility treatments to cosmetic surgery. But ask the millions of couples desperately trying to get pregnant whether or not having children is a necessity. Why would they subject themselves to months or years of such turmoil if, to them, it weren't essential that they try?”

  • Should Infertility Treatment be covered under new federal health care law? Is health insurance coverage of fertility treatments an essential benefit to help people manage a medical disorder? Or is it a life-enhancing benefit, nice to have perhaps but not essential because it doesn't sustain a person's life? In other words, is infertility a disease worthy of coverage in the new health care law passed by the Obama administration in 2010? A panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is wrestling with this and other issues raised by the new health-care law. Members are trying to determine what essential health benefits should be included in polices available through the state-based insurance exchanges where individuals and small businesses may buy coverage starting in 2014. The IOM recommendations will go to the Department of Health and Human Services. This debate was not reported on the IOM website, but was reported in Kaiser Health News Jan. 24, 2011. Parentdish also covered this news.

  • Recent research by Dr. Ali Domar suggest that those patients that reported higher scored for stress and anxiety before an IVF cycle had a greater chance of pregnancy, especially if they had good coping skills for handling the stress during the cycle. These finding were supported by one other study also reported at the ASRM conference in Oct. 2010. Check out the Jan. 19, 2011 Creating a Family show where we interviewed Dr. Domar.
  • A New York Times article reports that recent census analysis shows that child rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region of the country. In fact, Jacksonville, Florida is home to one of the biggest populations of gay parents in the country. Also, the data shows that Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children,
  • Congratulations to Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, both 43, who welcomed their new daughter Faith Margaret Kidman Urban. News reports state that she is the biological child of the couple and was carried by a gestational carrier. She joins big sister Sunday Rose, who was born to Kidman 2 1/2 years ago. Kidman also has two children through adoption from her previous marriage to Tom Cruise, Isabella and Conor. What's most amazing is that the baby was born on Dec. 28, 2010 and the couple was able to keep the pregnancy and the birth away from the news until Jan. 17. Hats off to them for that feat and for their new daughter. You can also read about the story here.
  • "Google Baby", a documentary on egg donation and surrogacy, is airing Wednesday, Jan. 5, on HBO 2. Focusing on the international nature of the egg donation and surrogacy. i.e. egg donor from the US, surrogate from India, intended parents Israel. See trailer here. I haven't see the full documentary, so can't say how fair or well rounded the presentation.
  • Recent research published in the Lancet journal indicates that gaining excessive weight during pregnancy increases birth weight and the risk for obesity in the offspring later in life. This was a large study of over 500,000 women and 1.1 million children. Weight gain of over 50 pounds was found to be detrimental, compared to women who gained between 17 and 22 pounds.
  • I saw the article on the front page of the New York Times and sighed. The title, Meet the Twiblings, promised in my mind another one of those articles focusing on the new fangledness of third party reproduction: Gosh darn, look what they've done now. I was sure it would start tongues wagging of designer babies. Well, I was wrong. This one is worth the read. I real story of a real mom through egg donation and surrogacy. My full review can be found here.
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is the most common infection present at birth in the U.S. (1 in 750) and can cause serious disabilities. If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, the Center of Disease Control has a great resource to tell you how to protect your baby from CMV.
  • Exciting research into endometriosis shows a genetic connection for moderate to severe endometriosis. Next step--a CURE. Please.
  • Calling all parents through gamete(egg and sperm) donation. The great organization Parents via Egg Donation is developing a document to distribute to the media for preferred language to use when talking about egg and sperm donation. They need your input on what language you prefer. Take this anonymous survey.
  • Ethics of Outsourcing Pregnancy to India. Thoughtful video exploring the ethics of using a foreign surrogate, specifically surrogacy in India. This is part of a lecture with philosopher Michael Sandel. Unfortunately, it is only a short excerpt from a larger lecture, so will leave you wishing for more. Approx. 5 minutes.
  • Household Chemicals Linked to Early Puberty & Infertility Evidence is mounting that exposure to everyday toxins found throughout our lives may cause infertility and early puberty. The list of chemicals includes phthalates, the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA), perfluorinated compounds found in nonstick cookware, flame retardants, the antibacterial agent triclosan, and mercury. We will have a radio show on this subject within the first couple of months of 2011.
  • Swiss researchers tested four common vaginal lubricants, Felis Lubricant, Replens Vaginal Moisturizer, Aquasonic Ultrasound Gel, and Pre-Seed. All four lubricants are labeled as "not spermicidal", but the researchers found that only Pre-Seed was non-toxic to sperm. The other three lubricants reduced sperm movement by up to 88 percent. The study was funded by Hygis, a Swiss company that resells pharmaceutical compounds but does not produce Pre-Seed.
  • According to Harvard researchers, men who eat foods high in mono-unsaturated and saturated fats, have a lower sperm count than those who eat foods high in poly-unsaturated fats. High intake of mono-unsaturated correlated with a 46% reduction in sperm; high intake of saturated fats correlated with a reduction of 40%. Mono-unsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils such as olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, and sesame oil. Saturated fats are found mostly in foods from animals such as beef, veal, lamb, milk, and cheese. Poly-unsaturated fats are found in fish, whole grains, and some seeds and nuts. Summary of this research can be found here.
  • Obesity is associated with lower pregnancy and higher miscarriage rates during fresh in vitro fertilization procedures; however, when frozen embryo transfer is used, pregnancy, live birth, and miscarriage rates are not significantly different from those of nonobese women, according to research presented here at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Denver. For fresh embryo transfers, 1367 women were studied, 82% (1126) were not obese, and 18% (241) were obese. undergoing fresh embryo transfers. The pregnancy rate for nonobese women was 59.6% compared with 56.0% for obese women.

    179 women had frozen embryo patients, 79% (141) were not obese, and 21% (38) were obese. The pregnancy rate in the nonobese women was 56.0% compared with the higher rate of 63.2% among obese women.

    The miscarriage rate among obese women in the fresh cycles group was nearly twice as high (12%) as among those women who were not obese. However, in the frozen cycles group, the live birth rate for nonobese women was 29.1% vs 26.3% for the obese group, which was not a statistically significant difference.

    Medscape http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/731933 has a good summary of this research, including an interview with the lead researcher where he gives some theories on why obese women have a higher success rate with frozen embryos. Registration is required to read the article, but it is free.
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  • What motivates egg donors? How do they feel a year after they donate? Interesting research presented at the ASRM conference gives us some insight. This article in US News and World Report summarizes it well.
  • Several states have introduced amendments or legislation that will severely restrict an infertile couple getting appropriate treatment. Recently, a number of states have proposed legislation that would define human life as beginning at the moment an egg is fertilized. As shorthand, such bills are often referred to as "Personhood Legislation." In Colorado, an initiative to amend the state Constitution to adopt this definition was defeated by the voters in November, 2008, but has reappeared for a statewide vote in November, 2010 (the “Personhood Amendment”). This Constitutional amendment would give all persons, "from the beginning of [their] biological development," i.e., from the moment of sperm-egg fertilization, inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law protection under the Colorado Constitution. Georgia, South Carolina, and Arizona also have bills pending that would have the same effect. Although careful not to mention the infertile, these bills would significantly affect a couples treatment. Check out the Resolve site for more information on this threat.
  • Celine Dion gave birth to twin boys conceived through IV. the boys were early and will remin in an incubator for several dayls, but both weighed 5+ pounds. Mother and sons are doing fine.
  • A fascinating study out of Standford University on how to determine which embryos to transfer was released recently. In my opinion, one of the greatest need for advancement in infertility treatment is determining which embryos are more likely to implant. If we knew this, we could transfer fewer embryos and also give patients a better idea of their chances of success. The study developed the technique of filming the embryos starting within hours of fertilization. Three factors were the most predictive of robust embryos: 1) the time that the embryos took to complete their first cleavage, splitting into two equal cells in no more than 33 minutes, 2) dividing again anywhere between nearly eight hours and 14 hours later, from two cells into four cells, and 3) then cleaving again from four cells into eight cells within six hours after the last division. Embryos can be ranked based on these factors. With more research it may be possible to predict which embryo is most likely to implant within 24 hours, thus allowing for transfer on Day 2. The lead researcher, Dr. Renee Reijo Pera, director of human embryonic stem cell research and education and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Standford, was a guest on the Jan. 6, 2010 Creating a Family show talking about the need for couples to donate unused frozen embryos for research. She discussed this research.
  • Robert G. Edwards, an English biologist who with a physician colleague, Patrick Steptoe, developed the in vitro fertilization procedure for treating human infertility won the Nobel Prize for medicine. Since the birth of the first test tube baby, Louise Brown, on July 25, 1978, some four million babies worldwide have been conceived by in vitro fertilization. Dr. Edwards, a physiologist who spent much of his career at Cambridge University in England, devoted more than 20 years to solving a series of problems in getting eggs and sperm to mature and successfully unite outside the body. This NY Times article reported on some of the controversy that surrounded their research and implied that it was this controversy that was responsible in the delay of over 30 years in getting this award.
  • A fascinating study was recently published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology on how different assisted reproduction techniques affect the gender of the resulting babies. Researchers in Australia studied all live births following fertility treatment in clinics in Australia and New Zealand between 2002 and 2006. 13,368 babies were born to 13,165 women who underwent single embryo transfer (SET) in that period. The study was undertaken to find out if there is a link between the type of ART used and the sex ratio at birth, defined as the proportion of males in all babies born alive (also known as the secondary sex ratio - SSR). Deliberate sex selection is banned in Australia. In this study, the SSR for babies born from single embryo transfer (SET) was 51.3%, which is comparable to the SSR for the general Australian population (51.5%). However, the results also show that specific ART regimes do indeed influence the SSR. There were fewer male babies born after ICSI SET (50%) and more after IVF SET (53%). The stage at which the embryo was transferred had even more effect; 49.9% for cleavage stage SET and 54.1% for blastocyst SET. The highest SSR was in the IVF SBT transfer group – 56.1% males – and the lowest in the ICSI cleavage SET group – 48.7%.
  • Good article in the New York Times on the often rocky mix of professional athletics and motherhood. A Dream Deferred, Almost Too Long It explores how intense physical training and delaying conception can result in infertility. Although this story will not come as a surprise to those who are infertile it does serve to explain why some woman postpone motherhood.Pro tennis player, Gigi Fernandez, says
    “As an athlete, you have this attitude, ‘I can do anything with my body. That’s how you think. So your biological clock is ticking, but you’re in denial.” She acknowledges that she would not have gone through egg freezing for fear of tinkering with her body through hormone injections. She and her partner are not the parents of twins through egg and sperm donation.
  • I loved this blog by Mel Ford (aka Stirrup Queens) about the recent report that linked stress to infertility. Why "Just Relax" is Still Not Helpful Advice in the World of Infertility In addition to the whole chicken and egg debate (did infertility cause the stress or did stress cause the infertility), there is plain old common sense. Most folks are pretty darn relaxed when they first start trying. So if stress alone causes infertility, everyone who pops the champagne and ditches birth control would be pregnant.
  • Researchers at Stanford University have developed a test to help determine a woman's chances of conceiving on her second IVF cycle if the first cycle failed. Doctors perform nearly 150,000 in vitro fertilization treatments in the United States each year, but fewer than 1 in 3 results in a live birth. The treatments cost $10,000 to $20,000, with health insurance only rarely covering the expense. A test that would help couples decide to pursue a second round would be immensely helpful.
  • Neil Patrick Harris, star of the TV show How I Met Your Mother and guest star on Glee, is expecting twins with his partner David Burtka via donor egg and surrogacy. No information on due date has been released.He made the announcement via Twitter.
  • I loved this article in Self magazine about the hidden impact of infertility--the "aloneness", the shame, the embarrassment. We need to get the message out that infertility is a disease. We need not be silent or ashamed about having a disease.
  • Reproductive Technology and Its Impact on Child Psychosocial and Emotional Development by Dr. Susan Golombok is a good introductory summary of what the research shows on how children conceived through IVF, ICSI, donor egg and donor sperm are doing from a cognitive and psychological perspective. It was published in 2003, but the information is still relevant.
  • An infertility clinic in Spain, which treats patients from around the world, donates unused frozen embryos to other couples without the express consent of the biological parents. In the US, couples must give informed consent before their embryos can be donated to another couple or donated for research. In addition, due to strict anonimity laws, the biological parents will not have information on these children and the children will not have access to information on their biological parents when they are adults.
  • New reports of screw-ups by Octomom's doctor, Dr. Michael Kamrava. One mistake clearly took place before the birth of Nadya Suleman's octuplets and it is not clear whether the other incident was before or after the octuplets. The first case involved the transfer of 7 blastocysts (day 5 embryos) into a 48 year old woman. Four implanted. One died and another has significant disabilities due to a premature birth at 33 weeks. The second case involved failure to detect advanced ovarian cancer.
  • Interesting article, and as always the following comments, on becoming a single mother by choice. I'm a single mother ... by choice. I second the author's endorsement of Mikki Morrissette's Choosing Single Motherhood. It is a must read, and so is her website.
  • Just saw a trailer to a fascinating new documentary on single motherhood by donor sperm. SINGLE CHOICE: MANY LIVES It looks wonderful. It is semi-autobiographical and follows the documentarian's journey on deciding whether to pursue single motherhood through donor insemination. She describes it as a "bittersweet journey - my own investigation of these concerns from the varied viewpoints of those whom this choice most deeply affects." She doesn't gloss over some of the uncomfortable aspects of this decision.
  • This article on stem cell research may be of interest to those couples with unused embryos that they want to donate to research. NIH rejects use of dozens of stem cell colonies by federally funded researchers. The National Institutes of Health refused to approve the use of dozens of colonies of human embryonic stem cells by federally funded researchers. President George W. Bush had severely restricted the use on stem cells derived from human embryos for research. President Obama relaxed the policy somewhat, but issued rigorous ethical guidelines for their use, including a strict interpretation of what type of consent must be obtained from the donating couple. The NIH found that consent forms permitting use of the embryos contained unusually broad language and those who signed the forms gave up all rights to sue the clinic for any reason, and thus did not follow the new ethical guidelines. The lines in question had been obtained from embryos donated by couples who were undergoing treatment for infertility and had decided not to use them because tests showed the embryos carried genetic defects. The NIH did approve eight other new lines, bringing to 75 the total number of embryoinc stem cell lines now eligible for federal funding.
  • The Motherlode column in the NYT did it again. Read this simply beautiful essay titled A Father’s View of Infertility by Mike Adamick. I think we, as a society, focus on how women are impacted by infertility and the guys are often overlooked.
  • Actress Constance Marie writes about her struggles with infertility and 3 IVF attempts.
  • Editorial in The Telegraph loosely based on the article mentioned in the prior Infertility in the News entry about the number of abortions in the UK following IVF. The editorial is titled "Spare us the hypocrisy of the IVF industry". As is unfortunately always the case, the comments are depressingly insensitive.
  • The headline reads “Dozens of woman are having abortions following fertility treatment”. The article in The Telegraph is on a recently released study in the UK. I have concerns about both the study and the article. The study found that an “unusually high” number of abortions (80 per year) were performed in England and Wales on women who have undergone IVF treatment. Doctors expressed surprise at the figures, and several critics accused women of treating babies like 'designer goods'.

    Around half of the abortions are carried out for women aged between 18 and 34, who are less likely to suffer complications in their pregnancies or conceive babies with abnormalities, raising the question that they “may have had abortions for 'social reasons'”. Towards the end of the article, they reported that selective reductions of fetuses in multiple pregnancies are included in the figures.

    Any pregnancy termination is a tragedy, but I question the glib conclusions that women who conceived through IVF were treating the decision lightly. From what I read, the attributed motivations were purely speculative. Selective reductions can and should be avoided by careful consideration of the number of embryos transferred, but are seldom a quick or callous decision. Listen to a truly insightful Creating a Family show Fetal Reduction to Reduce Risk or Triplets and More.
  • Researchers at Michigan State University have found that the use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) reverses the natural gender ratio at birth. The usual ratio of boys to girls at birth is 105 boys to 100 girls. Boys are considered more fragile and likely to not survive childhood, thus the higher percentage assure a more even ratio by early adulthood. When ICSI is used, this ratio was reversed. In many clinics ICSI is standard for most IVF cycles regardless of the cause of infertility. "The sex ratio of singleton offspring in assisted-conception pregnancies" Fertility and Sterility Volume 92, Issue 5, Pages 1579-1585 (November 2009)
  • Thought provoking article in the NYT titled The Birds and the Bees (via the Fertility Clinic) about a recently released report on how young adults conceived via sperm donation have fared. (My Daddy's Name is Donor: A Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation) The Op-Ed questions our current system of egg and sperm donation. Here's an excerpt: "Americans conceived through sperm donation also are more likely to feel alienated from their immediate family than either biological or adopted children. They’re twice as likely as adoptees to report envying peers who knew their biological parents, twice as likely to worry that their parents “might have lied to me about important matters” and three times as likely to report feeling “confused about who is a member of my family and who is not.”...

    Some of these burdens are inherent to a process that replaces natural conception with scientific technique. But some of them could be eased if the legal system treated sperm and egg donation with the gravity it deserves — as a process that’s far closer to adoption (and potentially more traumatic for the child involved) than our culture cares to admit."

    I plan on summarizing this report on our Infertility Research page and hope to interview the lead investigators in July. Stay tuned.
  • Celine Dion, 42, is pregnant with twins on her sixth IVF cycle. She was public last year about an early pregnancy loss. The babies are due in November.
  • New hope for women cancer patients to preserve their fertility. Nine healthy babies have been born to women who had some of their ovarian tissue removed and frozen before undergoing chemotherapy. The tissue was thawed and successfully transplanted to the women.
  • Article with some good advice on what to say when someone tells you they are infertile. Sometimes, the best is the simplest. "I'm so sorry this is happening to you."
  • Several prominent Rabbis have stated in rabbinic rulings on fertility treatment that a child conceived through in vitro fertilization is Jewish only if the egg came from a Jewish woman. The Wall Street Journal article is aptly titled Fertility Treatment Gets More Complicated .
  • Donating unused frozen embryos to research is not easy. Read the article in Newsweek about one woman's failed attempt.
  • A new study, published in a report from the Hastings Center, a nonpartisan bioethics institute, compares egg-donor advertisements placed in 306 college newspapers with the American Society of Reproductive Medicine guidelines which suggest a limit of $10,000 for egg donation with payment amount not related to characteristics of the donor. The study showed that nearly a quarter of the ads placed by egg-donation agencies and private couples exceed the $10,000 guideline. Compensation often varied based on SAT scores. For each 100-point increase in scores, compensation offers in the ads increased by $2,350, the study found. One ad in the newspaper for Brown University offered $50,000 for “an extraordinary egg donor.”

    In a separate commentary published with the study, John Robertson, chairman of ASRM’s ethics committee, questioned why there should be ASRM guidelines on choosing eggs based on the characteristics of donors. “After all, we allow individuals to choose their mates and sperm donors on the basis of such characteristics. Why not choose egg donors similarly?”

    Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the reproductive medicine society, said that the group had little authority over egg brokers and that concerns expressed about donation smacked of sex discrimination. “It’s interesting to me that people get upset about egg donation in ways they don’t get upset about sperm donation,” he said. “You never hear discussions about, ‘Oh, the sperm donor is going to regret it some day that they have a child.’ ” In all due respect to Mr. Tipton, egg donation is significantly more invasive than sperm donation thus raising the concern over payment unfairly inducing young women to take this risk. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have reported on this study. (March and May 2010) See also the article below that shows what happened in the UK when compensation for egg and sperm donors were significantly limited by the government.
  • The Pew Research Center reports a trend toward mothers who are older and better educated. One in seven babies -- or 14 percent-- were born to women over 35 in 2008, and almost one in four were first-time mothers. The vast majority, 71 percent, had at least some college education before giving birth. By contrast, births to women younger than 20 declined to one in 10 babies. This trend affects all ethnicities. Older age at marriage and societal acceptance of delayed motherhood are cited as possible reasons.
    • This is a thought provoking article on the pros and cons to government regulations prohibiting or limiting payment to egg or sperm donors. According to this article more and more British couples are going abroad for infertility treatment if they need donor egg or sperm because of a shortage of donors in the UK since donors can not be compensated above a very limited amount. Desperate for a baby? Why childless British couples are being forced to go abroad May 2010
    • I have hesitated to post this link here for fear of dumping more negative attention on surrogacy or on the woman who started this discussion, but have decided that it is a cautionary tale for the need for counseling and preparation for surrogates. This is a discussion started at the SurroWorld forum by a gestational surrogate that is pregnant with triplets and she wants to abort the whole pregnancy. If you decide to comment, please do so with compassion for everyone involved.
    • Pamela Tsigdinos, author of “Silent Sorority: A (Barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found,” wrote a beautiful piece for the NYT Motherlode column titled a Non-Mother's Day about how hard Mother's Day is for those suffering from infertility. The comments, as always, are a mixed bag of compassion and misunderstanding.
    • I love meta-analysis studies since they are looking at a large number of studies on a similar topic, thus taking out some of the variable and looking at a much larger population of subjects. A recent meta-analysis has found that woman who become pregnant after treatment for breast cancer actually have a significantly better chance of survival than those who do not. The meta-analysis looked at 14 studies with a combined total of 19, 476 women. Researchers speculated that this result may be explained by the protective effect of the immune and endocrine systems work during pregnancy. Eur. J. Cancer. 2010; 8:207
    • I am one of those people who always wonder about what happens to the people in the news stories once the media attention has passed. I recently saw this on the ABC news site talking about what happened to the two families that were caught up in the switched embryo story last fall. I feel for both families.
    • Recent research has found that aerobic exercise during the second half of pregnancy results in lower birth weight and low body mass for the infants. This was a randomized control group type study (the Gold Standard for scientific studies), but was relativity small since they only studies 84 women. The woman were asked to participate in a home-based cycling exercise program starting at 20 weeks and continuing until delivery. Hopkins SA, et al,. J. Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Mar 24.
    • A recent study published in the journal Human Reproduction disproved an earlier study that found a link between infertility treatment and a rare childhood cancer, infant leukemia. The researchers in this study found no association between infertility in parents or infertility treatment and risk of infant leukemia. The study was not designed to tease our whether infertility and infertility treatment are related to childhood cancers overall, but researchers are planning a study to investigate this possibility. The lead researcher cautioned, "No matter whether a child was born after spontaneous conception or with assistance, the vast majority of those kids are perfectly healthy."
    • A recent study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that children conceived from blastocyst stage embryos had a higher risk of preterm birth and congenital abnormalities. The study was conducted in Sweden and results were found in singleton births.
    • A study in the journal Human Reproduction found that an in home sperm analysis was effective 96% of the time. The test is similar to home ovulation and home pregnancy tests. The device will soon be available in Europe and is undergoing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review for marketing in the US.
    • Women Who Are Infertile Are at Greater Risk for Sexual Dysfunction than Their Fertile Peers. Woman during treatment reported less desire for an enjoyment of sex. Although this seemed to surprise the researchers, it's no surprise to many infertile women. Sex on schedule and the stress of infertility are a real buzz killer.
    • Interesting article on the complex familial/genetic relationships that are being created through embryo donation and egg donation.
    • New study in mice shows that changing the shape of the petri dishes where the embryos grow and adding a rocking motion pre-transfer to mimic the motion of a woman's body improves pregnancy rates. To read my summary of this research go to our Infertility Research page.
    • This is not really infertility news, but it made me laugh so I figured it was worth including. More urologists are advertising March Madness vasectomy packages. to get men to "take care of the equipment and lower your seed for the tourney." A promise of a weekend in front of the TV is apparently highly motivating.
    • Some interesting research on the use of the hormone kisspeptin to increase fertility. This research is testing to reverse infertility caused by low sex hormone levels.
    • Oklahoma passed a bill prohibiting the payment for donor eggs. The implications are far reaching, especially for fertility patients.
    • On March 6, 2010, Good Morning America did a story on "Men, Too: Infertility Is Not Just a Female Problem". Healthy Young Men Face Infertility and Battle Social Stigma. Check out this great article and video.
    • Currently only 15 states require insurance coverage for infertility treatment, and laws vary widely. Learn which states offer coverage, and what is included and excluded. Check out information at Resolve on pending egg donor legislation in the State of Arizona.
    • While on the The View website, I got sucked into watching the most bizarre interview with Nadya Suleman, aka Octomom. I'm not particularly proud that I spent 20 minutes of my life doing this, but somehow I sat in front of my computer transfixed. I've included the link just in case there are others out there who find this woman weirdly fascinating. I simply don't know what to say after watching this interview, and I am seldom out of words. Please remember that her doctor lost his license for his part in this fiasco.
    • The ABC daytime chick talk fest, The View, devoted the entire show Feb. 25, 2010 to infertility. Sherry, Barbara, and Elizabeth all experienced infertility. Guest included an infertility doctor and several couples and a single woman talking about their infertility struggles. It was very good. There were places where I cringed over the terminology or the misunderstanding of some basic issues, but all in all, I thought it was great. Let's face it, infertility needs all the publicity and support it can get.
    • Researchers in Denmark found that women who get pregnant through IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) have a fourfold increased risk of stillbirth compared with women who conceived naturally. This was a large study (20,000 pregnancies) and they controlled for multiple births by only following singletons. It is important to keep in mind that the overall risk is still quite low. The rate of stillbirth after IVF/ICSI was 16.2 per thousand, compared to 3.7 per thousand in fertile couples who conceived without medical help. This study did not speculate on why the stillbirth rate was higher with infertility treatment. This research supports the idea that all pregnancies through IVF should be followed more carefully by the obstetricians.
    • The best explanation, plus pictures, of embryo grading that I've found is at the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago website. They explain grading for Day 3 embryos and Day 5 embryos.
    • The Washington Post ran a good article on the recent research released by the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University showing that women lose 90 percent of their eggs by age 30. "Thirty? Life has hardly begun at 30! Gulp. The hard truth is that decades of research have proved that a woman's fertility declines over time. But now it appears that the old biological clock may start ticking much earlier -- and faster -- than once thought." Although the article was not necessarily alarmist, it did a good job of summarizing the current state of research.
    • ABC News had a good segment on premature ovarian failure. Informative and as a video it's a nice break from all the written articles I keep sending you to.
    • The New York Times ran a very good Q & A on the relationship between Celiac Disease, Infertility and Miscarriages. The covered it's impact on both male and female factor infertility. One of the most frustrating aspects of celiac disease is the often confusing symptoms it presents.
    • I thought this was such well written advice on how to share your pregnancy news with your friends who are struggling with trying to conceive.It's from Advice Smackdown.
    • I ran across this video recently(A Year In The Life of Infertility (Year 4)) and thought it did about as good a job as any summing up a year in infertility treatment. You might laugh, you might cry, but above all, you'll understand. Spoiler: The couple did not get pregnant, so although it's not an uplifting happy ending type video, it is still worth viewing if you're in the midst of this journey. We have listed many other videos on our Infertility Video page and we try to provide different types to suit different people at different stages of trying to conceive.
    • I've said it before and I'll say it again: Don't take short cuts when using Assisted Reproductive Technology, especially when using Third Party Reproduction. Check out the cautionary tale in the NYT, titled "21st-Century Babies: Building a Baby, With Few Ground Rules". Don't consider surrogacy without both sides being represented by an attorney.
    • Sarah Jessica Parker talks about their decision to use a surrogate in Elle.
    • Another NYT article on the physical, emotional, and financial cost of twin births. The Gift of Life, and Its Price
    • The Room For Debate column in the NYT ran a great discussion on The Trouble With Twin Births Numerous expert discuss the topic. Several of these expert have been a guest on our radio show, Creating a Family: Talk about Infertility and Adoption.
    • Wall Street Journal article on Dealing With Infertility Treatments on the Job July 15, 2009
    • New York Times article--Much has changed in Surrogate Pregnancies.
    • As many of you know, Creating a Family has long had an interest in educating families on their options on what to do with their unused frozen embryos. I recently read an interesting article in Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers titled "Love on the Rocks" by Beth Kohl author of Embryo Culture: Making Babies in the Twenty-First Century. Kohl also has 7 frozen embryos left over from her years in infertility treatment.
    • CBC Radio broadcast a 2 Part series titled From Here To Maternity in June 2009. "For decades men have donated sperm for baby-making. But in recent years egg donation has become a growing business and concern. Moms-in-waiting can purchase tourism packages to the Czech Republic or pay a university student in Boston for her eggs. Science journalist and IDEAS contributor Alison Motluk deconstructs the new motherhood." Downloadable podcasts are only available for one month.
    • I debated on whether to include this article summarizing research that supports a particular brand of nutritional supplement, Fertility Blend. (Supplement Study Raises Hopes For Infertile Couple) I comprommised by includig it on this "news" page, rather than the Research page. I caution that the study is small, but it was done by Stanford. I don't know whether the research was supported or paid for by the producers of the supplement.
    • Insurance is a big darn deal in infertility. I love David vs. Goliath stories and here's one for sure. Framingham couple fighting for expanded infertility coverage. They haven't won yet, but at least they are fighting the fight.
    • Interesting essay in the NYT titled Too Many Ways to Have a Baby? by Lisa Belkin. The impetus for the article was the announcement by Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick that they will be having twins later this summer via surrogacy. The essay was interesting, but the comments were even more interesting. There is still so much misunderstanding about infertility!
    • By Executive Order, President Bush severely limited embryonic stem cell research. On March 9, President Obama lifted some of these restrictions. Congress would have to act to truly liberate this research, but today’s executive order will open the door for researchers. Much confusion exists about what is in involved with embryonic stem cell research. Couple undergoing in vitro fertilization, the most common form of infertility treatment, often have frozen embryos left over once they have finished their family. Research has shown that many would like to donate these excess embryos to research. The June 4, 2008 Creating A Family show addressed the myths and facts about embryonic stem cell research. The panel of experts were Judith F. Daar, Professor of Law at Whittier Law School, Professor of Medicine at University of California Irvine College of Medicine, and author of Reproductive Technologies and the Law ; Dr. Marie Csete, Chief Scientific Officer at the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine; Dr. Shuhua Shen, an embryologist and fertility researcher with University of California at San Francisco,and Dr. Geoff Lomax, Science Officer to the Standards Working Group at the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
    • Once again, Slate Magazine nailed it, in this article titled "Crocktuplets: Hijacking the octuplets backlash to restrict IVF". This whole octuplet business is being used to create really bad legislation. Yes, I said it would happen, but I take no joy in being right. This is a must read.
    • As those of you who have followed my site know, one of my favorite infertility blogs, Stirrup Queens, is up for a Weblog Award. She needs our votes to win. The process is ridiculously easy. Click here, and then click on Stirrup Queens.
    • Rolling back the fertility clock on CNNHealth.com This is an up to date Infertility 101 article that includes a discussion of alternative treatments. Dec. 25, 2008
    • Psychosocial Impact of Infertility in Advance for LPNs (a magazine for practical nurses) This may be a bit of preaching to the choir and the information may not be earth shatteringly new, but it's nice to feel affirmed.
    • Her Body, My Baby by Alex Kuczynsk is a great article on gestational surrogacy in the Nov. 30, 2008 NYT magazine. Ms. Kuczynsk's honest account of using a gestational surrogate is not to be missed.
    • Left/Right Television, a film and TV production company based in New York City, is looking for several couples or individuals at the beginning of their infertility journey to follow for a documentary on infertility. I know nothing about this organization, but they have produced shows for This American Life (http://www.thislife.org/about_staff.aspx -- scroll down halfway and you'll see them). The tell me that “the larger purpose of our series is to introduce the public to the challenges of infertility, as well educate people on the options that exist for those having trouble conceiving. This will be a serious, respectful treatment of the issue of infertility.” If you are interested, contact Left/Right Television-- alexadanner @gmail.com (delete space).
    • CNN reports that Obama may overturn federal ban on stem cell research.
    • Bisphenol A (BPA) a chemical often used to harden plastic used in food and beverage containers may be linked to infertility and in vitro fertilization failure according to a report presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual meeting in early November. Last month, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel acknowledged that BPA may pose health risks. Read more.
    • Interesting article on how children conceived through donor gametes feel about this decision as adults. (Oct. 2008)
    • Great sereis of article in the LA Times on embryo disposition. The first page article idsuccses the options and the legislative threats. There are separate articles in the Health section on donating to research and donating to another couple. (Oct. 6, 2008)
    • A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted a recent decision, the first decision of its kind at the federal appeals-court level, that found women who need time off work for infertility treatment may invoke the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as potential protection against adverse action, such as being fired. 8-22-08
    • Two common "first step" treatments for unexplained infertility are found to be no more affective than doing nothing in a recently published study in the British Medical Journal. The NYT had a good summary of this study, and I review it more thoroughly on the Infertility research page . 8-11-08
    • Preemies Face Risks As They Grow Up: Babies born prematurely are more likely to be childless and less educated in adulthood. This is a CBS news article on a big study out of Duke. There is a video with this article as well.
    • Male infertility linked to growing waistlines: A study looks at one potential cause: fatty tissue enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.
    • Facing Life Without Children When It Isn’t by Choice. The decision to live child-free in the New York Times.
    • Patients Voices: Infertility. Audio clips of the infertility experience in the New York Times.
    • The Curious Lives of Surrogates:Thousands of largely invisible American women have given birth to other people's babies. Many are married to men in the military.
    • A Sperm-Biz Overhaul: A new era of openness about reproductive options is shaking up an industry based on donor anonymity. This article looks at the movement toward openness in donated gametes as changing the face of infertility treatment.
    • Engineering by Scientists on Embryo Stirs Criticism (New York Times) May 13, 2008
    • Experts Move Closer to Identifying Best Embryos which experts hope will increase pregnancy rates and the acceptance of single embryo transfer.
    • Wall Street Journal article on the increasing popularity of infertility tourism
    • New study shows that using a single more mature egg increases pregnancy rates and decreases risk of multiple births.
    • Reducing the odds of multiples article in the New York Times.
    • Fun article about infertility blogs. Some well known bloggers are quoted.
    • Boy, does this essay cut to the core of the infertility issue.

    Exciting new research published [Link word new research to in The New England Journal of Medicine and Human and Molecular Genetics journals, demonstrates that both Premature Ovarian Failure and azoospermia (very low or absent sperm count) have a genetic connection caused by a mutation of a specific gene. Mutations to the STAG3 gene have been associated with POF and azoospermia in mice, but these studies confirm its association in humans.

     
     
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