Monday, February 2, 2009

Octuplets' Birth Raises Questions About Fertility Treatment Policies

TIME: Octuplets Fallout: Should Fertility Specialists Set Limits?, by Bonnie Rochman:

Just about the time that eight babies began growing inside a California woman's womb, some nationwide policies about fertility treatment were being codified. In June, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued updated "Guidelines on Number of Embryos Transferred." Women under 35 — the octuplets' mom is reportedly 33 — should attempt to transfer no more than two, and preferably only one, fertilized embryo at a time. Women over 40 should attempt no more than five.

How the California woman, apparently a single mother who already has six young children, including a set of twins, got pregnant is the subject of rampant speculation. But regardless of whether the octuplets are the result of in vitro fertilization (IVF) or fertility drugs — with the latter having historically been available on the cheap in Mexico — there is little doubt that from a medical and ethical perspective, something went very wrong. And fertility specialists now find themselves on the defensive, trying to fend off the perception that theirs is an undisciplined, irresponsible profession.

Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility | Permalink

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I think fertility drugs and in vitro fertilisation should be reserved for women who have not been able to conceive a single child at all. A single woman with SIX children should never have been considered for such a procedure. In this highly over-populated world we live in, I think it is ludicrous giving a mother of 33years with 6 children the chance to conceive another 6!!! There are problems of finance, education, housing, to name but a few off a list as long as one's arm that face these poor children. Once again the state is going to be expected to support as will NGO's, family and friends. I think this was a selfish and poorly thought out decision and the children will pay the ultimate price!!

Posted by: Cheryl | Feb 9, 2009 1:07:56 AM

Why is nobody addressing the issue of the disabilities that at least some of these babies will almost certainly suffer? Blindness is a common outcome for severly premature infants. Another common disability is mental retardation, now referred to as developmental delay which makes it sound less serious. some of these infants end up profoundly brain damaged. The mother already has 3 disabled children out of the 6 under the age of 7 yrs. which were all also conceived by IVF. Even if only 2 embryos are transferred (or implanted, a new technique where embryos are placed under the uterine lining) there is still a risk that all embryos would divide or split creting 2 sets of twins, or quadruplets.Even twins are high risk for premature birth & low birth weights which can result in many medical problems including the ones listed above. This behavior is irresponsible & I believe it constitutes child abuse. Why would people not wish to adopt unwanted children or orphans rather than bring more children in to an already seriously & dangerously over populated world? I understand the desire to give birth to one's own child, but when a person must take dangerous fertility drugs (synthetic sex hormones) with risk of genetic mutations possibly resulting in cancer and/or deformities, is it worth the risk? IVF takes this a step further, because after the fertility drugs, embryos are placed into uterus with the risk of multiple births. The fact that this obvously disturbed woman now has 14 children is very sad, even if all were normal & healthy. It was reported that the 6 she already had were neglected. The Dr. who is responsible for this tragedy whould lose his license & face criminal charges. Besides the fact he should not have treated her at all, he transferred 6 embryos (2 of them split into twins, increasing the risk of the rare but very serious situation of conjoined (Siamese) twins. The other factor is her age, 27 at the time of the first IVF procedure. She was much too young to even be considered for IVF & now she is only 33 & has had multiple IVF procedures. She is still young to be having this procedure. No more than one embryo should have been transferred at one time which still runs the risk of twins or triplets. I find this entire situation very disturbing & I believe all fertility drugs & IVF procedures should never have been approved & now should be outlawed. Why are doctors allowed to experiment with human lives?

Posted by: eileen stevens | Feb 14, 2009 3:40:29 AM

I still do not understand how she was able to pay for the IVF procedures for each one of the pregnancies. I mean, she has had about 7 procedures in all, one for each pregnancy, by now she should have exhausted the $165,000 disability compensation she got. I really do not blame people for saying she is selfish, she's got a handful already, she could save up some money for the six kids she already had instead of wanting more. In my opinion, bearing kids is not enough to qualify a woman as a mother, it is the quality of life a mother gives to her child that counts. This is not just her problem, it's every taxpayer's, somehow we are all going to contribute to the care of these kids.

Posted by: Lola | Feb 19, 2009 8:43:13 AM

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