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Problems with in vitro fertilization

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is becoming increasingly popular as natural fertility declines and women wait longer to have children. This has created a boom in IVF clinics all competing vigorously for business. Tabulations are available that show the "success rate" of the clinics, i.e. how many live births are achieved per 100 women treated.

Experts in reproductive technology in the UK and the USA now warn that a high success rate is often achieved by implanting several embryos rather than just one. This, not surprisingly, quite often leads to multiple births, but increases the chances of at least one birth. In the USA it is estimated that 71 per cent of clinics routinely implant three or more embryos. Multiple pregnancies are bad for both mother and baby. The babies are more likely to have birth defects, be premature, have cerebral palsy, and have a low birth weight. The mother is more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, hemorrhages, and pre-eclampsia. One of the reasons for implanting more than one embryo is to save the cost of carefully checking each embryo to ensure that it is viable and healthy. If this is done, says Swedish fertility expert, Lars Hamberger, the chances of the embryo developing into a healthy fetus is 35 to 40 per cent.
Westphal, Sylvia Pagan. The scandal of IVF league tables. New Scientist, July 13, 2002, pp. 4-5

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