A new study has been published on risks to children conceived via IVF. According to the researchers at King’s College London and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, fears of commonly assumed risks are “largely unfounded” and the long-term health effects of IVF are still relatively unknown.
A summary of the study discusses the role of epigenetics in the development of health problems in twins conceived naturally and via IVF. While epigenetic influence has been identified in conditions such as cancer and mental illness, the researchers observe no such differences in children conceived by IVF. They conclude on a reassuring note, for people who have used and have children via IVF, along with a call for more studies to confirm whether smaller epigenetic changes they observed during the study remain over time.
Risk Disclosure and the Recruitment of Oocyte Donors: Are Advertisers Telling the Full Story?
By Hillary B. Alberta, Roberta M. Berry, and Aaron D. Levine | Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Neurosciences Summer 2014, pp. 232 – 243)
This study analyzes 435 oocyte donor recruitment advertisements to assess whether entities recruiting donors of oocytes to be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures include a disclosure of risks associated with the donation process in their advertisements. Such disclosure is required by the self-regulatory guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and by law in California for advertisements placed in the state. We find very low rates of risk disclosure across entity types and regulatory regimes, although risk disclosure is more common in advertisements placed by entities subject to ASRM’s self-regulatory guidelines. Advertisements placed in California are more likely to include risk disclosure, but disclosure rates are still quite low. California-based entities advertising outside the state are more likely to include risk disclosure than non-California entities, suggesting that California’s law may have a modest “halo effect.” Our results suggest that there is a significant ethical and policy problem with the status quo in light of the known and unknown risks of oocyte donation and the importance of risk disclosure to informed consent in the context of oocyte donation.
Please contact us or the journal directly for a copy of the full study.
By Peter R. Brinsden | Human Reproduction Update (Vol. 9, No.5, 2003, pp. 483 – 491)
From the study’s abstract:
Gestational surrogacy is a treatment option available to women with certain clearly defined medical problems, usually an absent uterus, to help them have their own genetic children. IVF allows the creation of embryos from the gametes of the commissioning couple and subsequent transfer of these embryos to the uterus of a surrogate host. The indications for treatment include absent uterus, recurrent miscarriage, repeated failure of IVF and certain medical conditions. Treatment by gestational surrogacy is straightforward and follows routine IVF procedures for the commissioning mother, with the transfer of fresh or frozen–thawed embryos to the surrogate host. The results of treatment are good, as would be expected from the transfer of embryos derived from young women and transferred to fit, fertile women who are also young. Clinical pregnancy rates achieved in large series are up to 40% per transfer and series have reported 60% of hosts achieving live births. The majority of ethical or legal problems that have arisen out of surrogacy have been from natural or partial surrogacy arrangements. The experience of gestational surrogacy has been largely complication‐free and early results of the follow‐up of children, commissioning couples and surrogates are reassuring. In conclusion, gestational surrogacy arrangements are carried out in a few European countries and in the USA. The results of treatment are satisfactory and the incidence of major ethical or legal complications has been limited. IVF surrogacy is therefore a successful treatment for a small group of women who would otherwise not be able to have their own genetic children.
The Incidence of Both Serious and Minor Complications in Young Women Undergoing Oocyte Donation
By Kara N. Maxwell, M.D., Ph.D., Ina N. Cholst, M.D., and Zev Rosenwaks, M.D. | Fertility and Sterility (Vol. 90, No. 6, December 2008, pp. 2165 – 2171)
This study provides information on the incidence of serious complications experienced by oocyte donors after controlled ovarian hyperstimulation and oocyte retrieval. It provides evidence that with careful monitoring, and when a liberal cancellation policy is followed, oocyte donors experience lower rates of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, compared with infertile women undergoing IVF. Furthermore, the study provides the first set of data on the rate of symptomatic minor complications experienced by oocyte donors. This information will help clinicians administer appropriate informed consent to the young women who present themselves as potential oocyte donors.