IVF News-Three Person IVF research success

A controversial new IVF method being researched in the US has produced promising results. So far the studies have been done on human embryos in the lab and monkeys. The technique is used to reduce transmission of mitochondrial disease from mother to child. A public consultastion on the ethics of using this techenique in UK is underway the results of which are expected next spring.

Source BBC News & HFEA

Find out more here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20032216

and at the HFEA http://www.hfea.gov.uk/7517.html

IVF News-new technique could double IVF success rate for women in their early 40’s

Women in their early 40’s currently have about a 13% chance of conceiving from each round of IVF.

A new IVF technique that has been studied  has increased this a 6 in 10 chance. The new approach involves testing the embryos for genetic abnormalities ( a common cause of failed IVF in women in their early 40’s) The gentically normal embyos are then frozen for between one and two months. (this gives the womens hormones time to return to normal after the IVF treatment) The normal embryos are then inserted into the womb. This technique is not widely available in the UK currently but it is hoped that it will be soon.

Source http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/9624688/Doctors-may-have-unlocked-secret-of-IVF-success-for-older-mothers.html

IVF News & Research

IVF has been in the UK news twice this week following the publication of two recent studies on IVF. Here is the BBC news coverage of the IVF research findings below

Being overweight doubles IVF miscarriage risk   28th June 2011 BBC news

Overweight women undergoing fertility treatment have double the risk of miscarriage of normal weight women, a UK study says.

More than a third of overweight and obese women had a miscarriage compared with one in five of normal weight women, a fertility conference heard.

Previous research has shown that women who conceive naturally are also at a higher risk if they are overweight.

Experts warned that obesity is putting women’s fertility at risk.

The study in more than 300 women was carried out at the fertility clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Read the full article here at BBC news    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10434138

 IVF procedure ‘may increase risk of Down’s syndrome’ 4th July 2011

Drugs used in IVF for older women may increase their risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome, experts say.

Doctors already know that the chance of having a baby with the genetic condition goes up with the age of the mother, especially for those over 35.

Now UK researchers, who looked at 34 couples, think drugs used to kick-start ovaries for IVF in older women disturb the genetic material of the eggs . Work is now needed to confirm their suspicions, a meeting in Sweden heard

Read the full article her at BBC news http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13992232

Information about possible birth defect risks from assisted reproductive techniques; scare tactics or essential disclosure?

There was a report in The Sunday Times yesterday that Prof Lisa Jardine, of the government’s regulatory body the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), is to recommend that fertility clinics warn prospective patients of the risk of birth defects associated with IVF, ICSI, twin pregnancies conceived using assisted reproduction and embryo screening. What does that mean for you, if you are in the midst of or have already availed yourself of one or more of these treatments?

We have heard this before – The first thing you should know is that this is not strictly new news. Eleven months ago, the Daily Mail carried an article stating that “IVF children have higher risk of infertility, obesity and diabetes.” In June of last year, it was reported by the HFEA that a study in France showed that there is a small increase in risks of congenital abnormalities in children born as a result of IVF or ICSI. More recently, The British Medical Journal has recently published information from a study that shows women who have one embryo transferred during IVF treatment are five times more likely to give birth to a healthy baby than those who receive two embryos.  This is not meant to frighten you further, but to show that there are reports in the news all the time and they need to be read carefully and validated.

Risks associated with assisted reproductive techniques – The next thing is to be aware that the HFEA is merely saying that there is a greater risk of health problems associated with assisted reproduction, but not definitively how much greater the risk is. Their intention is merely to be as open as possible with women about any risk before they give consent to starting an assisted reproductive procedure. I am absolutely in favour of that, as the process in which individual women, or couples, go through should be one of fully informed decision-making. What I want, however, is enough specificity to help people understand the results of the studies, as well as a user-friendly explanation of how likely it is that those conditions may affect the health of their child. The Sunday Times article only alludes to possible side effects of IVF and other fertility methods, but gives no statistics. The list of potential health problems in children born of assisted reproductive techniques (A.R.T.), including:

·        heart defects, cleft lip and neurological flaws;

·        low birth weight;

·        cerebral palsy;

·        cancer of the retina;

·        undescended testicles in boys born of IVF; and

·        Infertility in children born as a result of ICSI, a procedure in which a sperm is artificially inserted into an egg.

Risks associated with embryo screening – Additionally, the HFEA wants patients who choose to have their embryos screened for genetic defects before implantation, to be informed of “potential high risk of neurodegenerative disorders,” or brain disorders in their children.  Apparently, embryo screening which uses one cell rather than two cells is of less danger.  It’s important to note that “before issuing new guidelines, the HFEA is to carry out a further review of scientific papers on the health outcomes of assisted reproductive technology children.” That means that no guidelines have been issued yet and that fertility clinics are not yet required to provide this type of information.  Most people who have IVF will not feel the need for embryo screening as a matter of course. I assume that a fertility specialist would recommend the procedure only in such cases as when a genetic condition has already been identified as a possibile outcome. Consequently, the risk of the screening may be offset by the risk of the suspected defect which could already present. Still, I believe that this information should be included with all of the factors relevant to the patient’s decision-making, as it may make a difference to the type of screening undertaken.

What should you do? By all means, you should feel free to ask your medical practitioner for an explanation of these risks. It is worth mentioning that even if the risks of birth defects are somewhat higher in assisted reproductive births than in naturally conceived births, the incidence will still be relatively low. A good analogy might be the risk associated with amniocentesis. There may be a higher risk of miscarriage in pregnancies in which amniocentesis is performed, however, the risk is still less only about 1% of pregnancies in which the miscarriage will actually occur as a result of the procedure. The patient and her partner are the only ones who can decide whether the risk is a reasonable and acceptable one, given the context in which they are operating.

Weighing and balancing – If you cannot conceive naturally, you must decide whether a greater risk of birth defects in A.R.T. births is acceptable to you, relative to your desire to have a baby by any means. Weigh it against the chance that no birth defect will occur, but make sure to discuss how you would feel about having child with a condition like the ones listed above. I don’t have any overall statistics for you because they have not been issued yet, and may never be; you would have to take each study separately. The best way to make any sense of them is to restrict your exploration to those relating to the specific procedure  you will undergo.

Doing your own research – In order to fully explore these issues, you may want to do some of your own research, starting with the HFEA website, which has an excellent section for patient information. Then, if the information you discover leads to questions that you and your partner find difficult to resolve, you may want to talk to a fertility coach who can help you explore your values and priorities specific to your proposed fertility treatment. Just remember, the HFEA seeks to hold the fertility industry accountable, in line with public policy and to the patients that use it, for the protection of all concerned. While the media reports the findings of studies and government reviews of those studies in a way that sometimes makes them seem of greater or more immediate importance than they actually are, it is better to have that information available to us than to be kept in the dark.

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The big fertility issues on the BBC news in the last few months

High stress ‘delays pregnancy’

‘A scientific study has shown for the first time that high stress levels may delay pregnancy.

Oxford University experts measured stress hormones in women planning a baby naturally and found the most stressed had a reduced chance of becoming pregnant.

Relaxation might help some couples, but more research is needed, they say.’

Click on link to read the full article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-10942956

‘New test to dramatically increase chance of IVF success’

A new screening technique to test embryos could dramatically increase the chances of having a baby from IVF.

The test allows for any chromosomal abnormalities, the biggest cause of early pregnancy loss, to be picked up in embryos before they are reimplanted.

The UK-based researchers expect the technique to double or triple current IVF success rates.

Trials of the technique are being lead by fertility specialists at CARE Fertility in Manchester.

Read the full article here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11696644

‘NHS North Yorkshire and York suspends IVF treatment’

22nd October 2010 BBC News North Yorkshire

An NHS trust is to suspend IVF procedures as part of cost-cutting measures to help address a projected annual £30m overspend.

NHS North Yorkshire and York said IVF procedures would be halted in the final quarter of this financial year.

The trust will also lose 60 management posts and reduce the amount of money paid to voluntary sector organisations in a bid to make “significant” savings.

An infertility support organisation has described the decision as “appalling”.

Read full story here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-11604034

‘Sperm donors ‘deserve greater recognition’

Men who donate sperm for IVF should possibly be reimbursed more than women who donate eggs, a leading fertility campaigner has suggested.

Laura Witjens, who chairs the UK’s National Gamete Donation Trust and has donated her own eggs, says most people are not aware of the “serious commitment” involved in sperm donation.

She argues it is wrong to see it as less worthy than egg donation. But fertility experts say donating eggs is invasive and carries greater risks.

Fertility clinics are not allowed to pay for eggs and sperm, but they can compensate donors up to £250 for loss of earnings plus expenses.

That limit is about to be reviewed by the fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, particularly for women, who have hormone treatment and an operation to take out the eggs.

The question of reimbursement is being debated at the Royal Society of Medicine later.

Read the full article here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11576513