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Response to Tcbys (Reply #24)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 10:01 AM

34. We won't know for some time

These new reproductive techniques are an experiment in the making. We only get results as they are used on a large scale basis. We are only now, for example, finding out about the risks of the most common reproductive innovations:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/health/research/birth-defect-risk-higher-with-fertility-treatments-study-shows.html?_r=0

One finding:

"Women who had any fertility treatment were more likely to have a stillbirth, to have a low-birthweight baby, and to deliver before 32 weeks of gestation. Unsurprisingly, parental factors played a large role. For example, babies conceived without treatment by women who had previously had fertility treatments had a 25 percent greater risk for birth defects.

Dr. Pasquale Patrizio, director of the Yale University Fertility Center, who was not involved in the study, said this was a significant finding. “The most important message that I take from this is that it confirms pretty strongly the fact that infertility itself increases the risk for birth defects. If you’re infertile, you’re already at higher risk even if you don’t take any treatment.”

That's only one possibility: the other is that things such as hormones may have longer-acting effects than we understand, and that some of the increased risk is due to the treament itself.

We'll only really know if this is successful when, in a couple of decades, the people produced by this method are examined.

Spermatogenesis itself is a complicated process not entirely understood by medical science. THere is a lot that can go wrong: while it's common to attribute birth defects to such things as the age of the mother (i.e. it seems there's an impulse to blame women) it's becoming increasingly evident that the health and enviromnent of the father is also important. There has been a very strong selection pressure that has enabled most male organisms today to get this right, and I really doubt anything coming out of the lab will be as good for a very long time.

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Alcibiades Oct 2012 #34
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