HORMONE HAPPENINGS: Greene Guide’s News Recap

Here are some of the breaking news stories in reproductive medicine. This month there in another “first” for fertility treatment options. A woman gave birth from her mother’s uterus. We also have a look at events from 10 years ago with an update from an embryo that survived a hurricane. Check out the following:

Swedish woman successfully gives birth from her mother’s womb: After undergoing a hysterectomy in her 20’s, it was unlikely that this 30-something woman would ever carry a pregnancy. However, two years ago she was the recipient of a successful transplantation of the uterus from which she was born from. Her mother, now in her 50s, served as her organ donor. After waiting a year followed by several IVF attempts, she has now successfully given birth by cesarean section. Mother, son and grandmother are all doing well.

Injections of hCG provide an alternative to support early pregnancy after IVF: Women that have gone through embryo transfer following an IVF procedure are routinely given progesterone to support implantation and growth. Typically, the progesterone is given vaginally or by IM injections. In a new protocol, one group has demonstrated that daily low dose subcutaneous injections of hCG provide comparable pregnancy rates. Some patients may find this practice preferable.

Many pregnant women are iodine deficient: A new Swedish study corroborated the findings of a US study that many pregnant women get less than the recommended amount of iodine during pregnancy. The result of this deficiency can result in neurological impairment of the child; potentially leading to preventable but lasting motor and cognitive problems. The recommended daily amount of iodine is 150 mcg. Earlier this year there was a call-to-action for all prenatal supplements to include this amount

Egg freezing may lower cost and ethical burden of IVF: A new study found that freezing unfertilized eggs can actually ease the financial costs of advanced reproductive techniques. Many of the women participating in the program actually chose to donate some of their eggs to offset the cost of their own treatment. This option also eases concerns of many couples seeking only one or two children by not having to decide on what to do with “leftover embryos.”

Embryo that survived Hurricane Katrina, now celebrating 8th birthday: Noah is considered by some to be the “youngest survivor” of Hurricane Katrina because when he was rescued from a New Orleans fertility clinic 10 years ago, he was still an embryo. Noah’s father is a New Orleans police officer. He had his wife and one year old son evacuated at the time of the hurricane while he stayed in the area to assist with the rescue efforts. They had assumed that their embryos were lost. They later found out that their embryos were part of a group of 1400 that had been moved to the third floor of the center before the flood waters rose. They were later evacuated to a secure storage site. After subsequent Frozen Embryo Transfer two years later, Noah was born.

Prepregnancy obesity associated with a higher rate of stillbirth: A review of 7 years of clinical data from a large Pittsburgh OB hospital found that with higher pregnancy maternal birthweight was an increased risk of adverse outcome. The author’s noted that the obese patients had a higher risk of blood pressure problems and problems with placental pathology. This adds more data suggesting the achieving a healthier weight prior to pregnancy may reduce complications of pregnancy.

Observing preimplantation development may aid embryo selection: One of the greatest challenges in IVF labs is selecting the best embryo to transfer. This has fueled a debate over whether observational tools like the “embryo scope” can equal methods used to test the embryo’s DNA. Now a new imaging technique may provide some new information to aid in embryo selection by tracking how the cells move within the embryo during their early division and organization.

Robert Greene, MD, is a reproductive endocrinologist with Conceptions Reproductive Associates in Denver.

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