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Big Business of IVF has human cost


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#1 Three Of Hearts

Posted 13 January 2013 - 01:45 PM

An editorial in todays Herald Sun (for those who couldn't read it without logging in)

QUOTE
Big Business of IVF has human cost

By Melinda Tankard Reist

I DON'T want to discuss the personal  IVF journey of Tony Abbott's staffer Peta Credlin. Others can examine  the politics of the Opposition Leader's foray into the issue this past  week. But there is a new opportunity to talk about IVF. It is difficult  to criticise a procedure seen as "life-giving", and tempting to overlook  the human costs.

The Opposition Leader says he supports IVF  because he is "pro family". But we need to face the reality that despite  IVF industry publicity, with photos of smiling babies set to pastel,  most couples undergoing the procedure will never see a live baby.

In  2010, there were 61,774 assisted reproductive technology (ART)  treatment cycles performed in Australia and NZ. Of these, a mere 18.1  per cent resulted in a live baby.

There is a higher risk of  miscarriage, terminations for foetal abnormality, stillbirth, a 2.5  times higher rate of death, a high risk of caesarean and pre-term birth,  (33 per cent in IVF babies, 7.9 per cent in non-IVF babies) and low  birth weight (26.4 per cent, 6.8 per cent in non-IVF babies).

   IVF babies have more health problems. A large Ontario study found a 58 per cent greater risk of defects in IVF infants.

There's  an increased risk of heart defects (2.1 times), cleft lip/palate (2.4  times) and anorectal atresia (3.7 times). Gastrointestinal problems are  nine times higher in IVF babies. A Switzerland study has found  abnormalities in the blood vessels of 12-year-olds born through IVF.

There  are ethical concerns about the thousands of stockpiled frozen embryos  -- about 40,000 in Victoria. Most are destroyed (20,000 discarded in  Victoria in 10 years) and many are used in experiments.

Then there is the cost.

Medicare underwrote $217.4 million in costs from July 2011 to June 2012.

The cost of an IVF baby to women aged 30-33 years is $27,000, and for women 42-45 it is $131,000.

Egg  extraction involves weeks of psychological and medical testing,  followed by hormone injections. A long needle is used to pierce the wall  of the vagina, access the ovaries and remove the eggs. The aim is to  get as many eggs as possible. I know women who have had more than 20  eggs extracted.

Side-effects of the hormones include hot flushes,  emotional turmoil, bloating, visual changes, ovarian hyperstimulation  syndrome and multiple pregnancy. Ninety-two IVF cycles in 2010 resulted  in one or more of the foetuses being aborted.

An estimated 10 per cent of women develop hyperstimulation syndrome, which can be fatal. There were 206 cases in 2010.

Researchers  from the Netherlands have found that women having ovarian stimulation  have a twice as high a risk of ovarian malignancies.

Given the lack of adequate safety data, how can women exercise informed consent?

Marketed  as the only option, women are often put on the IVF treadmill before  others are explored. I know women referred to IVF in their late 20s who,  after abandoning the program, went on to have children naturally.

Of  course many couples would adopt if it wasn't so costly (up to $50,000  per child) and time-consuming. Australia has been accused of having an  anti-adoption ethos, with the lowest adoption rate in the developing  world.

In 2011-12, there were 333 adoptions in Australia (149 from overseas) - the lowest on record.

Yes,  there is a strong desire for a baby. But research on women's  experiences of ART shows many feel physically, emotionally and  financially drained, and suffer anxiety, depression and relationship  problems.

Women have a right to realistic expectations about  outcomes and risks. Some women say they were given hope but not enough  information. We welcome every baby born but this huge global enterprise  has not cured infertility.

While it may have brought joy to some  women with the birth of a baby, it has come with significant physical  and emotional suffering for many more.

To advertise failure rates is hardly a winning business strategy. But we cannot overlook the human cost of IVF.

Edited by Allie_D, 13 January 2013 - 06:21 PM.


#2 password123

Posted 13 January 2013 - 01:50 PM

As someone who has been through ivf, I find that article highly discouraging and negative.
It just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Don't know why.


#3 bettinae

Posted 13 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

I just read the article and DH and I had two failed attempts at IVF and it was one of the hardest times of our life and then after a year of again more drugs and trying with the drugs and just us we gave up we just didnt have the money to go again and the very next month we fell naturally........ we are due in june 13

I just wonder is it money driven by the FS...?

Its a big debate and a very emotional one at that...... sad.gif

The desire does over rule a lot of the time that maternal instinct is sooo strong well it was for me .....

x bbighug.gif

#4 Guest_Dinah_Harris_*

Posted 13 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

Was the article written by someone who has faced the prospect of being childless?  The heartache of lost babies?  
There ARE a lot of positives when it comes to IVF, as well.  I was informed of all the risk factors, suffered a few of them myself, and have two healthy children I otherwise would not have had.
To the best of my knowledge, my children don't have any defects.
These kinds of articles kind of me feel as if doing IVF was selfish and that my poor children shouldn't have been born.   sad.gif


#5 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:02 PM

I dont get the point of the article.

Infertility is a medical condition.  It can be related to a genetic condition, a syndrome like PCOS, a disease process like PID, endometriosis, previous cancer treatment etc.  IVF is a medical treatment, and has its risks and side effects.  

Most of the averse statistics quoted in the article are not due to IVF per se but due to the underlying reason for the infertility, the risk of multiples and higher maternal age.  

I don't see the big hoo ha over the risks, side effects, stresses and strains of medical treatment for cancer etc.  



#6 kiwi-girl

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:05 PM

I disliked this article, it very negative and I think it is pushing an adoption agenda. Ivf does not 'cure'infertility but either does adoption.  There are plenty of children who are conceived without the assistance of ivf who have medical problems but nothing is said about that. I would not be pregnant right now if it was not for ivf, and we did not go down this path lightly, nor did our specialist push us in it.

There is so much more that can be said but I suspect the writer is not open to hearing other points of view.


#7 password123

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:07 PM

QUOTE (Dinah_Harris @ 13/01/2013, 02:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Was the article written by someone who has faced the prospect of being childless?  The heartache of lost babies?  
There ARE a lot of positives when it comes to IVF, as well.  I was informed of all the risk factors, suffered a few of them myself, and have two healthy children I otherwise would not have had.
To the best of my knowledge, my children don't have any defects.
These kinds of articles kind of me feel as if doing IVF was selfish and that my poor children shouldn't have been born.   sad.gif


Yep. I knew someone would come along and articulate it for me. Especially the last sentence. That's exactly how I felt reading it plus I now also feel like we shouldn't bother going back for number 2 sad.gif


#8 sqawk

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:11 PM

I would like to see their sources for their stats partic those re congenital defects, c section rates etc. the overall c section rate is about 31% for all women. Considering ivf babies make up only a few percent of babies born, there is no way the c section rate for non-ivf babies is around 8%.

I'm sure there was an Australian study that showed no evidence of increased congenital or genetic defects except for Y chromosome disorders which are over represented in ivf couples as it causes male infertility.  And there is no consensus that there is an increase in ovarian or breast cancer risk

I think the author clearly has there own agenda

Other issues raised come down to individual practitioners eg recommending ivf to a young couple with unexplained infertility.

#9 Guest_Dinah_Harris_*

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:14 PM

QUOTE (Mrs_Snorks @ 13/01/2013, 02:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yep. I knew someone would come along and articulate it for me. Especially the last sentence. That's exactly how I felt reading it plus I now also feel like we shouldn't bother going back for number 2 sad.gif


In my biased opinion, you should if you can.  It is totally worth it.  original.gif

#10 casime

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:20 PM

I've read it a few times, and I've tried to articulate an appropriate response to the author about how I feel about what they have written.  Unfortunately, I find it hard to get beyond "go **** yourself."   rant.gif

#11 kwiggle

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:21 PM

These stats are very different to those quoted by some well respected clinics - some cycles have up to a 45% success rate in the right hands, way better than the 20% of a normally fertile couple doing it the old fashioned way!  
You have to remember too that the some of the group of people seeking IVF may have never had a live birth without this assistance, so the fact that they take a baby home at all is an amazing gift.
Noone understands why some couples have difficulty - unexplained subfertility is a huge part of the IVF clinic's work, so there are increased risks of problems and failures if we don't know why they struggle in the first place.... but to have success at all is a wonderful thing, and has lead to great happiness for many.

#12 WinterIsComing

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:24 PM

I haven't been through the IVF but came very close to (I discovered I was pregnant shortly before the appointment with a FS).

The article is plain damn ugly. The accusatory tone, that plainly implies that people choosing to go down the path of IFV is, firstly, naïve (or stupid) due to such low success rates, and secondly, selfish, since they are choosing to give birth to all those sick babies.

I don't believe the statistics, especially the caesarean rate. Also, a defect is anything which is not 100% textbook. For example, many babies are born with a tiny hole in their heart, which practically doesn't mean anything - they are still 100% and the hole often closes as they grow. Still, it would be classified as a congenital defect.

Why doesn't the article mentions anything about the enormous joy IVF has brought for so many people? For younger couples, IVF has pretty damn good success rates!



#13 librablonde

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:27 PM

That article offered no other solutions to childlessness so what was its point???? To make infertile clients feel guilty and selfish??  At least IVF offers hope and a chance at being a mum and many patients are willing to take that gamble. It's also an educated gamble. You are educated before starting IVF and do counselling to ensure it's what you want. It's like saying a cancer patient should be denied chemo b/c chemo doesn't always work and yet chemo is touted as the "cure". We all know chemo isn't going to work for everyone but it works for some. It offers hope and a chance. That's worth a lot.

#14 Satay Chicken

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:28 PM

This is such a negative article, probably one of the worst I have ever read.

For starters, the 18.1% live birth rate would be over all age groups, per transfer - the article implies its the overall success rate which is wrong.  When you think about it, 18.1% success rate per transfer is pretty good when most doing IVF have a success rate of close to 0% had they not given IVF a try.

Secondly, if IVF was so risky wouldn't these clinics be covering themselves legally (especially in Australia)? I never signed any documents that made me aware if I conceived my risk of having a baby with problems was so much higher than a naturally conceived baby.  I was however advised a number of times that my risk of a baby with a cleft palate was double but that was because of the medication I was on (nothing to do with the IVF per se).

I've been one of the very lucky ones to conceive first transfer and every day I am so grateful that I conceived through IVF with relative ease - my heart goes out to those who try again and again, their courage is amazing.  These articles are unfair, have limited proof and should be read with a grain of salt.

#15 Little.One

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:34 PM

QUOTE (meggs1 @ 13/01/2013, 03:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Most of the averse statistics quoted in the article are not due to IVF per se but due to the underlying reason for the infertility, the risk of multiples and higher maternal age.


Exactly right!

#16 MaeGlyn

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:35 PM

Yes isn't all birth coming with a negative side. Some people have to have caesareans, a friend of mine just had a baby with a tumor who is undergoing chemotherapy, I had kidney failure due to infection not due to IVF in the first 3 months. Why have children at all?

Because when my son was born from IVF in 2009, the year before the articles information, I went into labor at 39 weeks and when he was born I looked into his eyes and made a memory of feeling love that I never thought I could feel. Because when he was 3 months old he gave us his first smile, because he tells me and daddy at 3 to be happy and we are friends, because he tells me at 3 that when he grows up he is going to be tall.  hheart.gif  

There is this side of IVF then there is another side, the human side. The medical side of IVF was for such a short period of time in our lives.

#17 Lifesgood

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:38 PM

My initial thoughts on the article are what a crock of sh*t.

On second thoughts.....I still think it is a crock of sh*t.

Poorly written, poorly researched, inexplicably biased, I simply have no idea what the author is on about exactly.

#18 password123

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:41 PM

QUOTE (Dinah_Harris @ 13/01/2013, 03:14 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In my biased opinion, you should if you can.  It is totally worth it.  original.gif

Thanks original.gif

QUOTE (casime @ 13/01/2013, 03:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've read it a few times, and I've tried to articulate an appropriate response to the author about how I feel about what they have written.  Unfortunately, I find it hard to get beyond "go **** yourself."   rant.gif


Lol. Exactly!

#19 FeralAussieFembo

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:43 PM

Very negative article and I'm not sure what the point was?

I do agree on the adoption issue though. There are so many children in the world that need homes, yet so many australian couples wanting to provide that are met with astronomical costs, ridiculous waiting lists and red tape sad.gif

Edited by JBaby, 13 January 2013 - 03:10 PM.


#20 Lifesgood

Posted 13 January 2013 - 02:54 PM

It's written by Melinda Tankard Reist. She is an opinion writer and feminist. She is a mother of four and is 49 y/o.

Here are a couple of articles about her.

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/whos-...0110-1psdx.html
http://www.mamamia.com.au/news/melinda-tan...n-you-have-all/

Her writing style gets up my nose.

#21 Jamelex

Posted 13 January 2013 - 03:02 PM

That article just gave me a sinking feeling sad.gif

While our journey wasn't typical (we were also lucky enough to be successful first cycle), pretty much nothing in that article reflected our experience. If there is higher risks? That is something we were obviously prepared to chance, and I cannot regret that as I sit here watching DS (16months) repeatedly filling and emptying a bag with his toys, and then clambering on my lap for a cuddle.

We are now considering how long to try normally again before 'resorting' to IVF in the hope of a second child.

#22 kadoodle

Posted 13 January 2013 - 03:16 PM

It's the Herald Sun, 'nuff said.

ed to remove signature

Edited by kadoodle, 13 January 2013 - 03:24 PM.


#23 Three Of Hearts

Posted 13 January 2013 - 06:19 PM

As someone who is just about to get their first IVF cycle underway, and who has no other options, the article made me feel quite scared about everything.

It does seem very one sided though, especially the bit about knowing people who had given up on IVF and gone on to have children naturally.

#24 Mozzie1

Posted 13 January 2013 - 06:36 PM

Melinda Tankard Reist is a well known feminist activist - who also happens to be deeply religious. She is Christian of some denomination (hillsong?), although she hides this is a lot of her work. She is of the same mould who say feminists should oppose abortion, because it's bad for women.

My gut feeling is that IVF is not condoned in her religion, so she is arguing against it on the basis that it's difficult for the people undergoing it.

I have no basis for this, just a gut feeling and I could be totally wrong.

Either way, the article stinks. The comparison should be made between IVF vs no children, not IVF vs having a child naturally.


QUOTE (sqawk @ 13/01/2013, 03:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would like to see their sources for their stats partic those re congenital defects, c section rates etc. the overall c section rate is about 31% for all women. Considering ivf babies make up only a few percent of babies born, there is no way the c section rate for non-ivf babies is around 8%.


It's badly worded, but I think she means the pre-term rate is 33% vs 8%, not the c section rate.

#25 panikymama

Posted 13 January 2013 - 06:44 PM

I don't post a lot but just had to when I read this one. Sometimes I cannot believe what kind of junk is allowed to go to print. (Did the editors do no checking)!!

This article is full of ill-informed opinions, poorly twisted stats and a general shade of nastiness for good measure.

The author fails to mention that IVF gives a lot of infertile couples hope and an opportunity to try everything before giving into a future without children.

For us, and many couples that we know both through forums and IRL, IVF has been a beautiful blessing. Yes, there are still unfortunately (and devastatingly) couples who do not succeed with IVF and that is a tragedy I, and probably every fertility specialist would change if they could. But IVF when successful, fills a hole for many couples that makes all of the risks, all of the medication and all of the treatments worthwhile.

To the girls reading this article and being scared off or second guessing.... don't!! Yes, there are risks (much more minimal than the author cares to acknowledge) and yes, there is the possibility that things may not work out, but if infertility is your only other option then what have you got to loose!!

Once again, as I mentioned earlier, this is a ridiculous article that really should never have made it past editing.....


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