An article in today's New York Times shed some
light on the often-underpublicized dangers of a procedure called
intrauterine injection, or IUI, an alternative fertility treatment
to IVF that, while cheaper and less invasive, is also more likely
to lead to dangerous multiple births with complications and the
risk of death for the mother and the babies.
Women who have gone through large multiple pregnancies with
poorer results say the shows give viewers a misleading picture by
failing to present the wreckage left behind in many cases - babies
who are stillborn, spend months in the hospital undergoing painful
procedures that require morphine or suffer from long-term
About 1 in 5 pregnancies are multiples, mostly twins, but with
more babies comes a greater risk of complications. Quadruplets, for
example, have a more than 10 percent chance of dying in infancy,
the article found. And that doesn't even consider the financial
costs of the medical care multiple-birth babies usually
"We have families that have babies here for three or four or
five months, and they're having discussions with their insurance
companies because they have reached the lifetime limit of their
medical coverage," said Dr. Scott Jarriel, a neonatologist who
works at the Woman's Hospital of Texas and treats the Stansel
Sure, but a lot of medical procedures come with risks, right?
That's true, but this is different for two reasons: First, the
desire for a baby, especially among would-be parents who have
trouble conceiving, can escalate beyond rational. Maybe it's
hard-wired, maybe its cultural, but the pull to conceive - in
whatever way possible - can cloud the minds of potential parents
and literally can make them deaf to the risks, even as fertility
doctors are explaining them.
Second -- and I'm never so happy as when I blame Hollywood for
things -- multiple births are sexy now. Shows like "Jon & Kate
Plus 8," the media circus around Octomom Nadya Suleman and the new
WE (Women's Entertainment) netwrok series "Raising Sextuplets,"
which follows Jenny and Bryan Masche and their brood, glamorize the
But here's something to consider: Jon and Kate divorced over the
stress of raising the kids. Jenny Masche went into heart failure
during her pregnancy, though she has since recovered. As fertility
medicine makes parenthood possible for more and more people, we
should make sure we're proceeding rationally. Nothing is more
important than the safety of mother and child and making sure
potential parents have all the information - and carefully consider
it - should be a priority for fertility doctors.
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