Saturday, 31 July, 2010

Washington Post Commentary Explores Embryo Freezing

The Washington Post featured a commentary from Gillian St. Lawrence, a 30-year-old woman who underwent in vitro fertilization and embryo freezing as "a way to postpone parenthood without risking the higher miscarriage and genetic disorder rates that occur in babies conceived from parents older than 35." Typically, women who undergo IVF take hormones to produce several blastocyts -- five- to seven-day-old embryos -- and one or two of the embryos are implanted into the woman shortly thereafter. The remaining embryos can be frozen for future pregnancy attempts.
St. Lawrence writes that she initially did not plan on having children and that the idea of embryo freezing occurred to her while she was researching ways to donate her eggs. "My husband and I could create embryos, freeze them and, essentially, donate them to our future selves," she states.

Through her research on IVF, St. Lawrence "learned that the younger the parents are when they produce the eggs and sperm involved in any conception, whether in the womb or in vitro, the better the chance of a healthy baby." The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology reports that 47% of IVF pregnancies derived from fresh embryos resulted in live births, compared with 35% of pregnancies from frozen embryos that resulted in live births. "Initially, those success rates did not sound high," St. Lawrence writes, adding, "But the numbers referred to a single cycle; most couples ... produce several embryos during IVF, and if the first implantation is unsuccessful, they try again, and the cumulative success rate is much higher" (St. Lawrence, Washington Post, 7/6).

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