Several factors are at play here in the twin boom:
- Women delaying motherhood until career and educational goals are achieved or they're in the relationship they want..
- Women get to the point where single parenthood is the option they chose.
- Older women are more likely to conceive twins or triplets.
- Young women undergoing treatment for catastrophic disease freeze their eggs to protect their options.
The first child born via in-vitro was Louise Brown in the UK in 1978. Since then, it's been used more and more frequently and data is now being collected about the long-term health of the children conceived via IVF or other artificial reproduction technology (ART).
- We can't say that IVF/ART causes the disorders, but only that they occur together Still, it's all pretty suspicious, isn't it?
- IVF/ART is associated with increased risks of:
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- Cerebral palsy
- Genetic disorders (Rett , Fragile X, Angelman Syndrome, Prader-Willi, Beckwith-Weidemann Syndrome) that involve metabolic, growth disorders, nervous system disorders, seizures, speech and motor delays and "oddities").
Many, many times, I saw in the developmental history that the child was conceived via IVF. I was ALWAYS the first person who told parents that IVF was associated wtih a variety of disorders.
Now, I considered whether or not parents had forgotten in all of the emotionally-laden events that went on about the potential for problems, but they were adamant that they had never ever heard of this association previously. It was all about getting pregnant and delivering a health baby that could be discharged from the hospital and go home with Mom and Dad.
I did not comfort you. No one could comfort you. I couldn't lie to you and tell you that it was "going to be alright". I had no idea if your child will be self-sufficient. I just don't know until we implement intensive, individualized interventions immediately and for a prolonged period of time to determine what kind of improvement we could get. These services are expensive and insurance covers only a portion. Don't look for the schools to help. They're very limited in what they can do.
Yes, if the medical team had told you what to look for and the kind of help your child would need and to get interventions as soon as you left the hospital, the outcome might be different, but that's not what happened in your case. Other kids have been more fortunate. Their doctors and staff were forthcoming with you and gave you excellent guidance until your child was 3 which is when the public schools take over.
Find the doctor who will tell you everything s/he knows and has experienced. Find the one that will say, "Then, let's get an amniocentesis at 11 weeks and see if we can detect problems as early as possible". Find someone who trusts you as a mother to make the tough decisions early in the process.
I have suspected, forever, that the "conditions" involved in this process are responsible for the "association"/correlation of IVF/ART with the disabilities/disorders that we see. The repeated hormone exposures, semen preparation, freezing of embryos, freezing of semen, the growth conditions, the delayed insemination along with potential factors of maternal and paternal age are likely responsible.
Conception is designed to take place in the dark, warm, peaceful environment of a mother's body. There is just the right mix of hormones and nutrients that Nature decided was perfect. It doesn't always happen this way, much to our heartbreak. And, if we tweak the process, there may be unintended consequences.
From my research, I saw that doctors are less and less willing to implant multiple, viable embryos because multiple births dramatically increase the odds of pre-term labor, complications at delivery, longer hospitalizations and premature birth. Coupled with potential issues from IVF, the risks are substantially greater for later diagnosis of disorders and disabilities.
If your doctor tells you that s/he is willing to implant only one embryo, s/he is looking after your best interest on a long-term basis. Yes, I read that each round of IVF costs $10,000 to $20,000 and you're likely to think, "Wow, this doctor wants to make more money off of my situation. I can get two babies for the price of one". I'm not so naive to think this isn't part of the equation, but it's not the primary motivation or it shouldn't be. This is not about quantity, it's about quality.
In the end, it's not my decision to make. I wouldn't dream of telling you what to do. As for me, I had ten attempts and one completion. I was grateful for the one child I had. My mother comforted me by saying that I needed only one child because the Great Spirit knew that I would have hundreds of children. I had no idea what she was talking about. Her wisdom hit me, one day after she had passed, as I sat in the office of my private practice and thought about all of the children I was helping. She was right, but how did she know? She just knew "stuff".
My issue wasn't about fertility. It was about overcoming a serious disease to live long enough to see the end of the story. Everyone has a story. And every story has its own special meaning.
That's the reason why I end most of my articles with "Just do the best you can". I know; I truly know.
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