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June 11, 2014

Guidelines Needed for Creating Germ Cells In Vitro, Scientists State

(Medical Xpress) – Research aimed at developing germ cells—the progenitors of eggs and sperm—in vitro should be held to especially rigorous scientific standards, a distinguished team of reproductive biologists declares in the journal Cell. In the article, authors John Schimenti, Ph.D., of Cornell University and his Jackson Laboratory colleagues, Mary Ann Handel, Ph.D., and John Eppig, Ph.D., note that because “germ cells are the ultimate stem cells,” laboratories are racing to develop these cells in vitro for assisted reproduction.

Moms Pick Best Embryos from a Petri Dish with New Tool

(Bloomberg) – Women in the U.S. having trouble conceiving the natural way now may use a new tool to help choose the lab-dish embryo most likely to result in a pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration cleared for sale Auxogyn Inc.’s time-lapse photography device that assists fertility doctors who typically eyeball embryos to pick the most viable ones for placing in the womb. The closely held Menlo Park, California-based company’s Eeva System assesses the timing of important changes in embryos’ development to differentiate between ones that look equally healthy.

Fertility Clinics Are ‘Exploiting’ Some Infertile Women, Claims IVF Pioneer Lord Winston

(Daily Mail) – A fertility expert has today hit out at the ‘exportation’ of infertile women by some clinics. IVF pioneer Lord Robert Winston told peers in the House of Lords, that regulation by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority allowed for ‘entirely unvalidated experimental treatment’. Giving an example, Lord Winston said many clinics advertise on the London Underground and ‘some have relationships to do work overseas in other clinics, which are not allowed by British regulation’.

June 9, 2014

Half of All Babies Aborted Because They Have Down’s Syndrome Are Missing from Official Records Due to Poor Administration in Clinics

(Daily Mail) – Half of all babies aborted for Down’s Syndrome are missing from official figures due to chaotic record-keeping in abortion clinics, a government investigation has revealed. Doctors have broken the law by failing to keep proper records for the Department of Health on the reason for termination. Many Down’s terminations are being wrongly recorded as ‘social’ abortions – which make up the bulk of terminations in this country – but other records are simply missing.

Mum, Dad, and Mitomum

(The Economist) – On June 3rd the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates assisted reproduction, opined that, as far as it could see, there was no evidence to suggest that a genetic-engineering technique called “mitochondrial transfer” was unsafe. The technology, which was pioneered in Britain and America, is designed to cure the roughly one baby in 6,500 that would otherwise be born with a serious, untreatable mitochondrial illness. But it has caused a stir, for two reasons. Children born via the technique would have three genetic parents. And, if approved, it would be the first time that any country has allowed a genetically engineered change that could be passed on to the offspring of the person on whom it was performed.

June 6, 2014

Eugenics Victims Will Receive Compensation for Pain and Suffering

(WBTV) – A Charlotte woman, sterilized by doctors as part of a state program in 1971, will receive compensation from the state for pain and suffering. The North Carolina Eugenics program began in 1929 and ended in 1971. Records show around 7,600 young men and women were sterilized; many had no say in the matter. The majority of the sterilized teens were diagnosed with cognitive disabilities.

June 5, 2014

Investment in Midwifery Can Save Millions of Lives of Women and Newborns

(World Health Organization) – A report released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund together with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), WHO and partners reveals that major deficits in the midwifery workforce occur in 73 countries where these services are most desperately needed. The report recommends new strategies to address these deficits and save millions of lives of women and newborns.

Twin Peak: Class of Multiples Signals Waning Trend

(ABC News) – Twin births steadily increased from 1980 to 2009 from 18.9 per 1,000 births to 33.2 per 1,000 births, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. But the trend has leveled off since 2009, and has even shown signs of a decline in the years since. Births of three or more children have decreased 9 percent from 2011 to 2012. Doctors say the drop in multiples is likely to continue and should be seen as a sign that fertility treatments have gotten better, not worse.

Birth Defects in ART Babies Reviewed

(Medical Xpress) – Researchers have reviewed current knowledge to further understand the reasons for the increased incidence of birth defects in babies born through assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Children born through ART have a higher risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, birth defects and being small for gestational age.

June 4, 2014

Genetic Treatment Using Three-Parent Embryo May Be Ready in Two Years

(The Guardian) – A controversial technique involving three-parent embryos, designed to prevent incurable genetic diseases, could be ready within two years but unless the government changes the law, prospective parents will be prevented from using it, scientists say. Mitochondrial disease afflicts around 100 babies born in the UK every year. It is incurable and passed from mother to child. Symptoms include heart, liver and kidney disease, blindness and deafness, neurological problems and dementia.

Arizona Drug-Induced Abortion Limits Blocked by Court

(Bloomberg) – Arizona’s law limiting drug-induced abortions was blocked by a federal appeals court, handing a victory to Planned Parenthood as it seeks to roll back a restriction it calls among the most stringent in the nation. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco today ruled unanimously that the law places an undue burden on women’s access to abortions. The statute, while allowing surgical abortions, prohibits medicinal abortions including the use of the drug RU-486 after the seventh week of pregnancy.

Male Contraceptive Pill Will Have to Wait

(Times of India) – The much speculated birth control pill for males may not see the light of day soon as researchers have found that hormonal male contraception via testosterone does not stop the production of healthy sperm. The problem actually lies in optimal dosing of testosterone, the study showed.

June 3, 2014

Three-Parent Babies Are ‘Not Unsafe’ as Human Trials Planned

(The Telegraph) – Scientists have called on the Government to give the immediate green light to allowing three-parent babies after experts ruled the techniques were safe. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it had examined a “voluminous” amount of data and concluded the techniques were not “unsafe” and “potentially useful”. But it added that further experiments, including on human embryos, were needed.

Autism Linked to ‘Male Hormone’

(BBC) – Exposure to high levels of “male” hormones in the womb increases the chance of a baby boy developing autism, according to researchers. The University of Cambridge researchers say their findings from more than 300 boys help unravel the causes of autism – a condition that affects both sexes but is far more common in males. But they say it does not mean a prenatal test for autism is near. Nor will it necessarily be possible to stop autism by blocking the hormones.

New Population Concil Research Presented at 13th ESC Annual Congress

(Science Codex) – This week, the Population Council presented new research at the 13th Congress of the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health. Presentations included a pharmacokinetic analysis of the Council’s investigational one-year contraceptive vaginal ring containing Nestorone® and ethinyl estradiol, and its investigational male contraceptive implant MENT®, as well as new approaches to “green contraception,” including strategies to ensure that future contraceptive technologies are both effective and protect the environment.

June 2, 2014

Jindal Vetoes Surrogacy Bill

(The Advocate) – For the second year in a row, Gov. Bobby Jindal has vetoed legislation that sought to set up a legal framework for surrogacy births in Louisiana. Jindal announced the veto Saturday, three days before the end of the legislative session. His chief of staff, Kyle Plotkin, delivered the news by phone Saturday morning to state Sen. Gary Smith, who co-sponsored the legislation.

Exploitation of Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Medical Tourism

(Medical Tourism) – Medical tourism has increased the possibilities of the international possibilities. Along with medical services the body parts, wombs and oocytes of third world country citizens are also on offer in the market. The market has expanded and along with it the possibilities of selling and buying has increased too. Apparently, it may seem that both the buyer and the sellers are winning but there are many underlying horrifying facts that one must consider.

Next Generation DNA Sequencing Technique Identifies ‘Best’ Embryo to Transfer to IVF Patients

(Medical Daily) – Earlier this week came reports of the oldest mother in the U.S. to give birth to a healthy baby through in-vitro fertilization using her own newly harvested eggs. She was 46 at the time of implantation and an exception to the rule of low success rates for IVF at her age. Now, in Italy, a next generation DNA sequencing technique for screening embryos has proven to be an effective and reliable method of selecting the best embryo to transfer to in-vitro fertilization patients. Because the technique is less expensive, faster, and, most importantly, accurate, it has the potential to revolutionize pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS), the researchers believe.

New Insights into Egg Selection May Have Broad Implications for Women’s Health, Fertility

(News-Medical) – A woman’s supply of eggs is a precious commodity because only a few hundred mature eggs can be produced throughout her lifetime and each must be as free as possible from genetic damage. Part of egg production involves a winnowing of the egg supply during fetal development, childhood and into adulthood down from a large starting pool. New research by Carnegie’s Alex Bortvin and postdoctoral fellow Safia Malki have gained new insights into the earliest stages of egg selection, which may have broad implications for women’s health and fertility. The work is reported in the early on-line edition of Developmental Cell.

May 30, 2014

Orlando Woman Sets an Oldest-Mom Record

(Orlando Sentinel) – A 46-year-old from Orlando has become the oldest woman to have a baby through in vitro fertilization using her own fresh — not frozen — biological eggs. Belinda Slaughter delivered her first child — a healthy baby boy — last September. Her son, Jackson, “is wonderful and perfectly healthy,” said the proud mom.

May 29, 2014

Women’s Contraceptive Use Influenced by Contraception Education and Moral Attitudes

(Medical Xpress) – Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and unplanned pregnancies are associated with poorer health and lower rates of educational and economic achievement for women and their children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, research shows that the desire to avoid pregnancy does not necessarily increase women’s use of contraceptives, although this discrepancy is not well understood. Now, MU researchers have found that levels of prior sex education and moral attitudes toward contraception influence whether women use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.


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