Our Blog Roll

First full genital transplant performed in the USA

Posted by on May 3, 2018 in Fertility Doctor, hba, ICSI, Male Factor | 0 comments

First full genital transplant performed in the USA

30 April 2018 By Georgia Everett Appeared in BioNews 947 A team of surgeons in the USA has successfully performed the first full penis and scrotum transplant on a wounded veteran. The anonymous recipient sustained life-changing injuries while serving in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device, or IED, caused multiple wounds to his lower pelvis and legs. Eleven surgeons carried out the 14-hour surgery to transplant the entire penis, scrotum and surrounding abdominal wall from a deceased donor. It is the first surgery to transplant such a large and complete part of the genital area. However, the donor’s testes and vas deferens – the tube that carries the semen to the urethra – were not transplanted due to ethical concerns. ‘We would not want to transplant the germline from the donor, because that would mean that, were the recipient to father a child, that actually the genetic background of the child would be from the donor and not from the recipient,’ said Dr Gerald Brandacher, scientific director of the Composite Tissue Allotransplantation Programme at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and a surgeon on the case. The recipient will eventually receive a testes prothesis. The operation is hoped to restore urinary and sexual function for the man, said Dr W.P. Andrew Lee, director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins. ‘While extremity amputations are visible and resultant disability obvious, some war injuries are hidden and their impact not widely appreciated by others,’ said Dr Lee. ‘Genitourinary injury, where the male service members’ external genitalia are lost or severely damaged, is one such “unspoken injury of war”, [which has] a devastating impact on their identity, self-esteem and intimate relationships.’ The soldier released a statement following the surgery. ‘It’s a real mind-boggling injury to suffer; it is not an easy one to accept,’ he said. ‘When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal… [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence… like finally I’m OK now.’ Male genital reconstruction procedures are usually performed using tissues from other parts of the body, with a prosthesis implant to enable erection. However, this comes with a higher risk of infection. In addition, with injured veterans there is often insufficient suitable, healthy tissue elsewhere in the body to use for the reconstruction. By performing a full genital transplant, all components can be transplanted including nerves, tendons, bone and blood vessels, allowing almost normal function of the genitalia to be restored. As with other types of transplant, tissue rejection is one risk associated with the procedure, which can be limited by using immunosuppressant drugs. The surgery was funded by The Johns Hopkins Genital Transplant Programme, which focuses on post-traumatic cases, particularly injured soldiers who often have wounds that make conventional options impossible. The transplant team has announced that the university has approved 60 genital transplant surgeries as a part of the...

read more

Single cell to embryo: unprecedented detail

Posted by on May 3, 2018 in Fertility Doctor, hba, HBA-PICSI, ICSI | 0 comments

Single cell to embryo: unprecedented detail

30 April 2018 By Shaoni Bhattacharya Appeared in BioNews 947 Scientists have unveiled a detailed roadmap of how an embryo forms from a single cell over 24 hours. Three papers published in Science detail the fate of every single cell produced to form an embryo in zebrafish and Xenopus (the western claw-toed frog). ‘Understanding how an organism is made requires knowing which genes are turned on or off as cells make fate decisions, not just the static sequence of a genome,’ said study co-author Dr Sean Megason at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. ‘This is the first technological approach that has allowed us to systematically and quantitatively address this question.’ The scientists used a technique called single-cell RNA sequencing to reveal which genes were being expressed, in which cells, at different times. The researchers profiled more than 200,000 cells at multiple time points for both species over the course of the embryo’s first day. They also developed artificial DNA barcodes to tag each cell and so they could track the material of each cell individually. As an embryo forms, individual cells will commit to becoming different cell types. ‘In one snapshot, we can see the entire story of development unfolding,’ Dr Allon Klein, also at Harvard Medical School, told STAT News. ‘By capturing cells over the first 24 hours of life, we could look at the entire process by which cells were making decisions about the cell types they were going to become.’ A surprise finding was that some cell types emerged much earlier than previously thought. The hope is that better understanding the process of cells differentiating may help in regenerative medicine, with the coaxing of stem cells into different tissue types. ‘With these datasets, if someone wants to make a specific cell type, they now have the recipe for the steps that those cells took as they formed in the embryo,’ said Klein. Klein also told STAT: ‘We could also use it to look at the dynamic of diseases such as developmental disorders...

read more

1st time rare genetic disorder treated before birth

Posted by on Apr 30, 2018 in Fertility Doctor, hba, Male Factor, picsi | 0 comments

1st time rare genetic disorder treated before birth

30 April 2018 By Martha Henriques Appeared in BioNews 947 Three children have been cured of the worst symptoms of a developmental genetic condition with a ‘remarkable’ treatment while still in the womb. Two women – one pregnant with a single child and one with twins – received injections of a protein that their fetuses were unable to produce themselves, due to a condition known as XLHED (X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia). The protein was administered straight into the amniotic fluid around the fetus, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The condition is caused by a mutation in a gene involved in developing skin, hair, teeth and nails, carried on the X chromosome. One of the most serious symptoms is having no or very few sweat glands, making it difficult to regulate temperature. XLHED can be fatal if the children become too hot, especially when they are too young to seek out other ways to cool off. GenticDesease Sweat glands develop in a short window between 20 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. Experiments in mice had previously shown that injecting the protein during this phase of development in utero led to offspring that had the glands and could sweat normally. When the same was done for the two women, the children were also born with working glands. The twins’ treatment was particularly successful. As the children grew, their ability to sweat became more and more obvious. At one point, their parents noted that they had completely soaked a car seat with sweat on a hot day. ‘A full rescue of sweating ability – that was so great, just unbelievable,’ Corinna, mother of the twins, told STAT. ‘We were hesitant,’ Professor Holm Schneider, who carried out the study at the University Hospital Erlangen in Germany, told MIT Review. ‘In [Corinna’s] situation you think twice. You think more about the risks involved – three lives – but also the chances that it may bring.’ The third child also developed sweat glands, albeit fewer of them. The child’s mother only received one dose of the protein while pregnant due to limited availability, whereas Corinna – the first to be treated – received three. After an unsuccessful trial of the protein with newborn babies with XLHED, the drug’s maker had closed down and considered it a failure. As a result, only very small amounts of the drug remained left over from the trial. Professor Schneider and his colleagues now hope to develop the drug with a medical charity. As XLHED only affects about 1 in 17,000 people, commercial manufacture of the drug is unlikely ever to be profitable. A few doses of the drug during the crucial developmental window before birth are expected to have life-long effects, although the researchers acknowledge that they will have to wait many decades to confirm this. ‘That’s the remarkable part here, that a genetic disease can be at least partially corrected by a short-term protein treatment,’ said development biologist Dr Marja Mikkola at the University of Helsinki in Finland, who wrote an editorial on the study in the same issue of the journal. ‘This study paves the way for a larger trial of this novel approach.’ The study also opens the door to investigating whether other genetic developmental conditions could be treated in a similar way. ‘There are a number of conditions for which we would seek treatment in utero, but traditionally these have been non-genetic, non-inherited conditions,’ Dr...

read more

The Real Cost of IVF

Posted by on Apr 18, 2018 in HBA-PICSI, ICSI, Male Factor, picsi | 0 comments

The Real Cost of IVF

16 April 2018 By Dr Nicoletta Charolidi Appeared in BioNews 945 Although this article and some of its elements are specific to the UK, the underlying theme of how infertility affects the individuals throughout the world, is a common bond.  –  RS ‘The Real Cost of IVF’ event organised by Progress Educational Trust (PET), despite its an ambiguous title, had a very specific purpose: to acknowledge, discuss, and to raise awareness of the emotional and psychological price paid by people who undergo fertility treatment. The event was held at the at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), where a packed lecture theatre was welcomed by PET’s Director Sarah Norcross, followed by Sally Cheshire, Chair of Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the chair for the evening’s discussions. Cheshire – touching on her own experience of fertility treatment – introduced the issues of financial costs of fertility treatments including IVF, provision of these treatments from the NHS, fair access to funding for all, provision of evidence-based treatments and importantly, the issues of emotional and psychological costs of IVF and the benefits from receiving the right level of emotional support all along the way. Each speaker gave a short presentation and then the panel answered audience questions. The first speaker was Professor Lesley Regan, President of the RCOG, a leading obstetrician and miscarriage expert, who reported having seen many patients saddened by their inability to conceive naturally. Her talk drew from the recent RCOG impact publication ‘Multiple pregnancy following assisted conception’, as well as the premature birth of her own (naturally conceived) twin daughters, which she described as ‘the most humbling experience of her life’. The NHS currently spends £8 billion annually on postpartum mental health. Professor Regan said she believed that the scale of the problem can be reduced, not just for economy’s sake, but for the emotional wellbeing of women, families and society. Reducing multiple births is one of the measures that could help. She highlighted the well-documented risks of multiple pregnancy and stressed the role of physicians in educating patients about risk and supporting informed decision-making to minimise added stress and anxiety during pregnancy. The HFEA, in conjunction with IVF clinics, professional bodies and patient groups, developed a policy to reduce multiple birth rates in the UK. Since 2009, a steady increase in elective single embryo transfers (eSET) has resulted in better IVF success rates. Professor Regan highlighted that for the good results to continue, provision of IVF through the NHS is the single most important factor for acceptance of eSET among patients and practitioners. The second speaker, Jacky Boivin, is professor of health psychology at the University of Cardiff. She asserted that most individuals and couples hold a strong wish for children, and that the importance of this desire should be at the forefront of all decision-making in the field, including decisions about funding. Professor Boivin talked the audience through the emotional effects of childlessness and their link to the unfulfilled child wish, to physical aspects (for example, endometriosis), and to the roller-coaster of emotion in constantly awaiting test results or going through failed attempts. To understand these implications, Professor Boivin compared women undergoing IVF with untreated women or with the same group between treatment cycles. Data from such comparisons showed that women who undergo a cycle of IVF may be more stressed and experience...

read more

IVF more successful than ever…

Posted by on Mar 19, 2018 in Fertility Doctor, HBA-PICSI, ICSI, picsi | 0 comments

IVF more successful than ever…

IVF more successful than ever, says major UK report 19 March 2018 By Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd Appeared in BioNews 942 Fertility treatment in the UK is more successful and safer than ever before, according to a report from the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority). IVF is now 85 percent more likely to succeed than when records first began in 1991, said the regulator. Over 20,000 babies were born in 2016 as a result of more than 68,000 IVF treatments, an increase of four percent from 2015. The HFEA’s new report covers fertility treatment trends and success rates for the 2014-2016 period. ‘Assisted reproduction has come a long way in the 40 years since British doctors pioneered IVF with the birth of Louise Brown,’ said Sally Cheshire, chair of the HFEA. ‘With well over a million treatments performed in the UK since records began, and more than 300,000 babies born, as a country we remain at the forefront of fertility treatment.’ She added that the report was ‘the most extensive we’ve ever produced’. The report found that the average birth rate for women of all ages undergoing fertility treatment was 21 percent, with this increasing to 29 percent for women under 35. A total of 42 percent of all women undergoing IVF treatment in 2016 were under 35. Births from fertility treatments are also safer, said the report, with far fewer multiple births than ever before. This has fallen from around one in every four, or 28 percent, of IVF births in 2008 to 11 percent in 2016. The report also noted that fertility treatment ‘has become available to a wider range of people’. While the majority of patients receiving IVF treatment in 2016 were heterosexual couples (95.3 percent), since 2014 there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of IVF treatments for patients with a female partner (to 2.5 percent), and a 35 percent increase in the number of treatments with no partner (1.9 percent). The report also noted that treatments involving donor eggs and sperm are increasing in popularity, as is the use of frozen eggs in IVF. For the first time ever, the report also details the number of surrogacy treatments in 2016. There were 232 surrogate cycles and 79 births in 2016. ‘We welcome the fact that the HFEA has, for the first time, included data on surrogacy in its report,’ said Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust (which publishes BioNews). ‘At a time when Parliament is working to permit surrogacy for single people and when the Law Commission is reviewing surrogacy law more broadly, it is increasingly important to have access to reliable data about this...

read more

The silent seed

Posted by on Mar 7, 2018 in hba, HBA-PICSI, Male Factor, picsi | 0 comments

The silent seed

5 March 2018 By Dr Anna Smajdor Appeared in BioNews 940 A person’s death need no longer spell the end of his or her future reproductive possibilities. A dead or dying person can have their reproductive tissue removed to enable someone else to have a child. It was recently reported that a woman in India used the sperm of her dead son, who had died of cancer, to create grandchildren. His mother found an egg donor and another relative acted as a surrogate, and is now the happy grandmother of twins (see BioNews 938). In this case, the donor chose to have his sperm frozen before he had cancer treatment, and gave his mother and sister authority to use it in the event of his death. Posthumous and perimortem sperm extraction, however, are sometimes used in circumstances such as this if the gametes have not been preserved during life. Such procedures have been carried out in the UK and elsewhere at the request of partners and parents of the dead person. There have been controversies in the past about who exactly has legitimate interests in reproductive tissue harvested from the dead. Spouses may seem the most obvious people who have justifiable claims. Dead bodies, in fact, contain a variety of material that may be of value to others. One question is whether the removal and use of these materials is acceptable at all. The second is who should have access to it. The process by which sperm is obtained posthumously is invasive and – some would argue – undignified. It involves the insertion of an electric probe into the patient’s rectum. Increasing voltages of electricity are applied until ejaculation occurs. Sperm is discharged into the bladder, due to the absence of normal physiological responses that would ordinarily expel it from the penis. The sperm is collected via a catheter threaded up through the urethra and into the bladder. The body is thus penetrated anally and through the urethra for the purposes of fulfilling someone else’s aspirations for a baby. I use the term ‘undignified’ with caution here. It is a notoriously subjective concept. Some people might regard the process as being entirely in keeping with appropriate treatment of a dead, dying or comatose body. Others might regard it as amounting to sexual assault. Ordinarily, the distinction between assault and legitimate interactions with another person’s body lie in the fact that consent has been given. Then, there is the question of who should be able to use the sperm so obtained. Spouses, lovers, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends… How do we determine this? And what is the nature of the urge that makes people want to enter the bodies of others in order to extract their gametes? Clearly, it is not simply the reproductive urge. It is not obvious that the dead person can be said to reproduce if a child is produced with his posthumously extracted sperm. And in the case of spouses and lovers, a reproductive wish could be more easily fulfilled by finding alternative (living) reproductive partners. Of course, it is the genes that people are seeking: those mystical symbols of the dead man’s essence. Genes are of such importance that we will insert electric probes into the anuses of dead men in order to harvest those precious seeds. But there is a strange asymmetry in such cases. Children get their genes...

read more

Friends share closer genetics than strangers

Posted by on Jan 29, 2018 in hba, ICSI, picsi | 0 comments

Friends share closer genetics than strangers

22 January 2018 By Elizabeth Oliver Appeared in BioNews 934 We are more likely to share genetic similarities with our friends than with strangers because of our social structure, a new study has found. Not only do friends tend to be genetically closer than strangers, they are on average two-thirds as similar to each other as the average married couple, according to a study published in PNAS. Past research has suggested a likeness between the genome of spouses and adult friends but why or how this happens has been unclear. One explanation underlying these genetic similarities may be social homophily, whereby individuals are drawn to one another based on shared characteristics such as social background or physical traits, for example height or weight, which themselves can be shaped by genetics. Another cause may be social structuring the authors write, the idea that people form friendships due to a shared social environment, which again can be traced back to genetics. To examine this further, scientists from Stanford, Duke and the University of Wisconsin studied social and genomic data from 5500 American adolescents collected during the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. When analysing the genome of schoolmates, the scientists demonstrated that classmates were half as genetically similar as friends and significantly more similar than unaffiliated individuals. The researchers further revealed that socially affected traits, such as body mass index and educational attainment, were more similar than traits that weren’t influenced so much by social enviroment, such as height. So people weren’t necessarily subconsiously seeking out friends who are genetically like them, but rather they tend to be surrounded by people of similar genetics because of where they live and the circles they move in, and that’s where they make friends. Speaking to Time, lead author Dr Benjamin Domingue at Stanford University concluded that a shared environment and background is likely to be the main factor underlying the genetic likeness observed. ‘Are individuals actively selecting to be around people who are like them, or it is due to impersonal forces, such as social structures, that we all are affected by? Our evidence, with respect to friends, suggests that it’s largely the effect of social structures,’ he said. The authors add that social homophily and social structuring are not mutually exclusive and may complement one another. Professor Kathleen Mullen Harris, fellow author and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, suggests careful consideration of this ‘social genome’ in future social science research. ‘Geneticists need to pay attention to the social context when they’re estimating genetic influences on [traits] like education attainment,’ she said. ‘It’s important to pay attention to these shared genetic effects that we speculate are really due to social...

read more

Forget Pot-The Legal Issue Out of CO Is Babies!

Posted by on Jan 26, 2018 in ICSI, Male Factor, picsi | 0 comments

Forget Pot-The Legal Issue Out of CO Is Babies!

By ELLEN TRACHMAN Jan 10, 2018 at 2:42 PM https://abovethelaw.com/   In this case, the Colorado Supreme Court will decide what to do with the ‘leftover’ frozen embryos of two feuding exes.   It’s like a nerd Christmas! Yesterday, the Colorado Supreme Court heard oral argument in the hotly contested Rooks matter. That case involves what to do with “leftover” frozen embryos, and pits two feuding exes against one another. The ex-wife wants to use the couple’s remaining cryopreserved embryos to conceive another child, despite the marriage being over. As you can guess, her ex-husband wants no part of that. Adding to the nerd excitement, this was the first case argued before the newly appointed Colorado Supreme Court Justice Melissa Hart, an acclaimed constitutional scholar. Hart took the seat of the previous Justice, Allison Eid, who herself had recently taken Justice Neil Gorsuch’s old spot on the Tenth Circuit. Hart is known for her previous liberal political activities, but also throws significant love to the Colorado Federalist Society chapter. So her debut yesterday was eagerly anticipated by nerdy court watchers. Recap.  If this case feels like deja vu, it’s because I’ve written about it before. As a reminder, the facts involve Mandy and Drake Rooks, a once-married couple who underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to have children. With the help of modern technology, the couple grew their family by three kiddos. First a singleton boy, and then twins. However, Mrs. Rooks argues that Mr. Rooks promised her unequivocally that they would have a big family, and that meant more than a mere three children. The couple divorced, and a divorce court was left with the job of deciding who would receive rights to their remaining six cryopreserved embryos. While medical consent forms between the parties are generally helpful in these situations, in this case, the Rooks’s medical consent form specifically noted that in a case of divorce … the court would decide. Take note, lawyers. That kind of clause isn’t helpful. The trial court found that Mr. Rooks’s interest in not having more genetic children with Mrs. Rooks was persuasive, and awarded the embryos to him for the purposes of destruction.  On appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals, following a balancing of interests approach, again ruled in favor of Mr. Rooks. So now it’s the Colorado Supreme Court’s turn. For Procreation. Katayoun Donnelly is the attorney for Mrs. Rooks, and she’s like, really smart, but in an actual way. She understands that the legal rights to genetic material are becoming increasingly complex in our technologically evolving world of genetic donors, surrogates, and cryopreservation. Is IVF Like Having Sex? However, Donnelly reaches a conclusion that I still don’t find compelling.  She contends that once someone agrees to IVF, and for his or her genetic material to be used to form embryos, then whoever (among the genetic contributors) wants to use those embryos has an overriding interest that outweighs the objections of a genetic contributor who wants to not procreate. Finders, keepers, judgment entered, mic drop. In support of the argument, she analogizes agreeing to IVF to choosing to have sexual intercourse. She argues that once someone is pregnant, the genetic contributor (the dude who accidentally impregnated a woman) can’t object to the child being born. And here, because Mr. Rooks agreed to have his genetic material used...

read more

How does sperm motility affect fertility?

Posted by on Dec 1, 2017 in hba, HBA-PICSI, ICSI, picsi | 0 comments

How does sperm motility affect fertility?

Last reviewed Mon 27 November 2017 By Amanda Barrell Reviewed by Daniel Murrell, MD www.medicalnewstoday.com/ Sperm motility is the ability of sperm to move efficiently. This is important in fertility because sperm need to move through the woman’s reproductive tract to reach and fertilize her egg. Poor sperm motility can be a cause of male factor infertility. What is sperm motility? There are two kinds of sperm motility, referring to the way the individual sperm swim. Progressive motility refers to sperm that are swimming in a mostly straight line or large circles. Non-progressive motility refers to sperm that do not travel in straight lines or that swim in very tight circles. For the sperm to get through the cervical mucus to fertilize a woman’s egg, they need to have progressive motility of at least 25 micrometers a second. Poor sperm motility or asthenozoospermia is diagnosed when less than 32 percent of the sperm are able to move efficiently. How does it affect fertility? Worldwide, around 60 to 80 million couples are affected by infertility, and the rates vary from country to country. In the United States, the rate is thought to be around 10 percent of couples. The figure is based on the definition of infertility as the inability to conceive after 12 months of trying. Male factor infertility is when an issue with the man’s biology makes him unable to impregnate a woman. It accounts for between 40 to 50 percent of infertility cases and affects around 7 percent of men. Male infertility is usually the result of deficiencies in the semen, the most common of which are: low sperm count or oligospermia poor sperm motility abnormal sperm shape or teratospermia Around 90 percent of male infertility issues are caused by low sperm count, but poor sperm motility is an important factor also. Causes of low motility The causes of low sperm motility vary, and many cases are unexplained. Damage to the testicles, which make and store sperm, can impact on the quality of sperm. Common causes of testicle damage include: testicular cancer infection testicular surgery an issue a man is born with undescended testicles injury The long-term use of anabolic steroids can reduce sperm count and motility. Drugs, such as cannabis and cocaine, as well as some herbal remedies, can also affect semen quality. Varicocele, a condition of enlarged veins in the scrotum, has also been associated with low sperm motility. Diagnosis Semen analysis is the most basic and useful test, and it can detect 9 out of 10 men with a fertility problem. The test assesses the formation of the sperm, as well as how they interact in the seminal fluid. The sample is usually collected by masturbation. The man will be asked to abstain from sex for between 2 and 7 days before collecting the sample to increase the volume of semen. It is necessary for the whole ejaculation is be collected in a sterile container to ensure the test results are complete. The sample is usually collected in a private room at the doctor’s office or collection facility, though in some circumstances it can be produced at home. If this is the case, the sample will need to be delivered for analysis within an hour. The sample should not be stored in the fridge, and doctors recommend holding it close to the body during transportation to keep...

read more

Fertility: Vitamin D may influence success rate

Posted by on Nov 20, 2017 in Fertility Doctor, HBA-PICSI, ICSI, picsi | 0 comments

Fertility: Vitamin D may influence success rate

Published Saturday 18 November 2017 By Tim Newman Fact checked by Jasmin Collier www.medicalnewstoday.com A new meta-analysis has concluded that there is a relationship between a woman’s vitamin D status and the success rate of assisted reproduction therapy. Infertility is a common and distressing issue, and it affects an estimated 6.1 million couples in the United States. That’s around 10 percent of all couples of childbearing age. Over the years, assisted reproduction therapy (ART) — including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and fertility medication — has become much more widespread and its success rates have increased. As an example, depending on the woman’s age and the clinic involved, success rates of IVF in the U.S. range from 13–43 percent. An initial uptick in ART success rates was thanks to improved methods of picking out embryos with the highest chances of survival. But more recently, success rates have started to stagnate. Vitamin D and reproduction Researchers believe that there is room for improvement in ART success rates. A range of potential factors are being explored, and some scientists have turned their attention to the potential role of vitamin D. The vast majority of our vitamin D supply is generated in our skin after exposure to sunlight. This means that individuals who live in colder or darker environments are more susceptible to lower vitamin D levels, as are people with darker skin, those who regularly wear clothes covering the majority of their skin, and those who rarely go outside. A link between vitamin D and fertility has been theorized based on a number of observations. For instance, vitamin D receptors and enzymes have been found in the endometrium. Also, in animal studies, vitamin D deficiency causes poorer fertility and reduced function of the reproductive organs. In humans, vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, and lower birth weight. Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust, both in the United Kingdom, decided to take a look at existing data to probe the links further. They carried out a meta-analysis, reopening 11 studies including 2,700 women undergoing ART. Their findings are published this week in the journal Human Reproduction. Vitamin D deficiency and lower success rates The featured studies involved women undergoing IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, frozen embryo transfer, or both. All the participants’ vitamin D levels were checked by blood test. Vitamin D concentrations of more than 75 nanomoles per liter of blood were considered as sufficient, under 75 nanomoles per liter of blood as insufficient, and under 50 nanomoles per liter of blood as deficient. The analysis showed that procedures in women with adequate vitamin D levels were one third more likely to lead to live births than in women who were deficient. When the researchers looked at positive pregnancy tests and clinical pregnancies — that is, where a heartbeat can be detected — rather than live births, the results were similar. When compared with women who had insufficient vitamin D concentrations, those with sufficient amounts were 46 percent more likely to have a clinical pregnancy, and 34 percent more likely to have a positive pregnancy test result. The analysis showed no associations between miscarriage and vitamin D concentrations. “One startling finding was the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among these women. We found that only 26 percent of women in...

read more