Monday, August 17, 2009

"Dodecamom" Doesn't Have Quite The Same Ring To It

Tunisian Woman Poised to Give Birth to 12 Babies: Reports
(Also reported here.)

I guess we'll learn in the coming days if this is a true story or a hoax. Stories of "extreme fertility" really get under my skin. I understand wanting to have children. And I can certainly sympathize with those who are unable to get pregnant or stay pregnant. I know from friends who have suffered fertility problems and miscarriage that it is frustrating, heartbreaking, and overwhelming. But the higher the order of multiples, the higher the risk to both mother and babies. Why take chances with your own life, or the lives of the children you so desperately desire? And where are the medical ethics?

It is a known fact that multiple gestations are at greater risk for premature birth and the potential accompanying health problems. Does bleeding in the brain sound like a great start to life? Even with the availability of selective reduction, there are plenty of folks who object to such practice, and others who would reject it based on the fact that it potentially puts all the fetuses at risk. But let's go back even further, to the fertility doctors who create these high order multiples, because 12 spontaneously conceived babies would be so rare as to be impossible.

Several European countries already limit the number of embryos transferred during IVF. While I believe that the majority of fertility specialists practice ethically, perhaps it is time for the law to step in and keep everyone on the same page. Any thoughts?

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