Warren King Seattle Times medical reporter
than 177,000 babies have been delivered in the United States using reproductive
technologies that started 20 years ago, researchers in Seattle
said yesterday. But in talking about all that has been achieved, they also criticized federal action that for now has halted development of some new
the past two decades, technology has dramatically expanded and Enabled
the pregnancy rates for women undergoing the procedures to reach 25 to 50
percent. At the same time the number of multiple pregnancies among those
undergoing the procedures has declined sharply.
have new ways to help couples achieve their goals," said Dr. James Toner,
an Atlanta endocrinologist who reported on the advances to the American
Society for Reproductive Medicine.
than 3,000 reproductive specialists are gathering through Thursday For
the 58th annual meeting of the society at the Washington State Convention
and Trade Center.
Toner cited progress in the technology, he and other officials Roundly
criticized the Food and Drug Administration for effectively banning certain
technologies a year ago. The agency said it was concerned about safety and
issued the ban during the heat of ontroversy over cloning and the death of a
patient undergoing gene therapy.
FDA says any treatments that genetically alter egg cells or embryos would
fall under its jurisdiction and, like drugs, require extensive review
and approval. Previously, the agency had stayed away from fertility procedures
because its policy is not to interfere with the practice of medicine.
action for now has stopped an experimental procedure in which Material
from a young woman's egg is added to the egg of an older woman in an effort to
increase the chance of pregnancy. The material contains DNA, so the egg would
end up with genes from three parents. Also topped was a procedure in which the
nucleus of a donor egg is transferred to the egg of a woman seeking to become
FDA has now gone from regulating food, drugs and medical devices to regulating
the practice of medicine. ... Their concern is safety. Our concern is safety,"
said Dr. Jamie Grifo, a New York University School of Medicine endocrinologist
and president of the Society for Reproductive Technology, an affiliate
said researchers never knew for certain about the safety of in Vitro
fertilization and other technologies until they were tried on humans. "Patients
must take some risk (with new procedures)," he said at a news
said the most successful technology to date, with a 50 percent pregnancy
rate, involves implanting a donor egg fertilized with sperm of the patient's
partner. The cost is $5,000 to $7,000. In vitro fertilization involves mixing
the egg and sperm in a lab dish, then implanting the egg.
procedure, which has been used in the U.S. since 1985, costs $8,000
$15,000 and has a 35 percent pregnancy rate.
small survey of parents conducted by Cornell University and University of
Oregon researchers found that some children of two reproductive technologies
were at risk, around age 3, for developmental problems involving communication,
gross motor (muscle) skills, fine motor skills, problem solving and
16 percent of children conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF)
at risk for problems. And 14 percent of those from ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm
injection, in which a sperm is injected into an egg, then implanted) were
at risk. About 10 percent of 3-year-olds in the overall population
the researchers said only 18 percent of about 1,400 parents returned
questionnaires about their children. They said none of the children
had problems significant enough, under federal guidelines, to require special
services at that age.
survey by University of Sydney (Australia) researchers found That
mothers of 179 5-year-olds conceived by IVF or ICSI had more protective
attitudes toward their children than the mothers of 113 children conceived
They also found that the children of the reproductive technologies
behaved and developed just as well as the other kids, according
to parents and teachers.
the differences identified in ... maternal attitudes do not appear
to impact adversely on child adjustment," the researchers reported.
they may reflect a heightened awareness of and sensitivity towards their child,
related to the unique path to conception."