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Eight is ENOUGH

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Yesterday, a woman gave birth to six boys and two girls in California.

Eight babies

The mother was initially told she was carrying seven babies ... so everyone was surprised when the eighth was delivered. "It is kind of insane to expect seven and get eight, but I can see how it would be pretty tough to be able to clearly distinguish that many sacs and fetuses on an ultrasound," says momlogic OB/GYN Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz. "Once someone said that there were seven, I am sure everyone just looked for seven."

Even though it hasn't been confirmed, most believe this pregnancy had to be a result of some kind of fertility treatments, including in-vitro feritilization. But is it ethical to implant EIGHT embryos in one person? Our OB/GYN says NO.

"My question is who in the heck put that many embryos in this lady, and why is it not against the law to set up a human to have a litter?" Dr. Gilberg-Lenz, who has delivered twins and triplets and assisted in two deliveries of quadruplets, asks. "It is so dangerous. It's fantastic that they all appear to be OK right now, but it's totally irresponsible in my opinion."

She says implanting more than three to four embryos is frowned upon generally, "Because how many babies are you going to get?" She explains, "There are all these risks for the mother -- hypertension, hemorrhage, maternal mortality. It's very high risk. And there are so many risks for the babies -- all those complications that go along with multiples, including infant mortality. It's crazy. And for what? I feel implanting so many embryos is mercenary. It's just bad medicine."

Dr. Richard Paulson, director of the fertility program at the University of Southern California, said the latest births likely resulted from the use of fertility drugs, and that the children could face serious health risks.

"It's a risky decision to try to have all eight babies," said Paulson, who had no role in the delivery. "I would not recommend it under any circumstances, but I respect a parent's decision."

Increases in the use of fertility drugs have caused a surge of multiple births in the last two decades, specialists say. Many aging and childless couples are demanding aggressive fertility therapies more likely to produce multiple births. About three million infants have been born worldwide using IVF or other reproductive technologies.

Britain, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and other European countries have banned putting more than three embryos in women undergoing IVF. Doctors who break the rules can lose their licenses, pay fines or face incarceration.

Although Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz feels strongly that the maximum number of embryos allowed to be implanted should be regulated, the U.S. has only voluntary guidelines. In 1999 the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommended that no more than two embryos should be placed in women under 35 undergoing IVF who produce healthy embryos. Those women who produce poor embryos could get three. Older women could get more. The voluntary guidelines were further tightened in 2004. They now state that women under 35 with a good prognosis should consider only one embryo and that no more than two should be transferred in this age group except under extraordinary circumstances. The new guidelines also say women between 35 and 37 should get only two embryos if they have a good prognosis. If they don't, they should get three but no more.

But those guidelines are VOLUNTARY, and many doctors implant more embryos to increase a woman's chance of becoming pregnant.

Rifaat Salem, the director of Pacific Reproductive Center in California, told the Wall Street Journal he doesn't always follow the guidelines because he often treats patients who have failed IVF at other clinics. Patients are people, not statistics, he says, and he judges each case on its merits. He says he doesn't hesitate to place "10 or 12" embryos in some women, even if they are under 35, as long as he feels their embryos are of inferior quality and unlikely to yield a pregnancy. Dr. Salem says none of the patients in whom he has introduced 10 or 12 embryos have had more than one baby.

If more than one embryo "takes," many women undergo a fetal-reduction procedure. That's the medical procedure of eliminating some fetuses in a multiple pregnancy in order to give the others a better chance to survive. But many are morally opposed to this procedure, and will just have the babies anyway, no matter what the risk.

Do you think it's ethical to implant so many embryos into one woman, or should there be limits? Comment below.


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58 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenn January 27, 2009, 12:53 PM

I definitely think the doctors should limit the number of eggs implanted. Maybe they have multiple twins in this case?? Without all the facts its hard to say. That being said, I can understand the parents not wanting to do a “fetal reduction”. Its abortion, pure and simple, and many are against it. I just pray for the family that all the babies are healthy and that they get the help they will definitely need!

Elita January 27, 2009, 12:59 PM

Thank you for having the guts to say this, Dr. Gilberg-Lenz! Human WOMEN are not dogs and should not be having litters. This whole thing is beyond selfish. Those poor babies will be stuck in the NICU for the next 2 months, at least, and goodness only knows what kind of physical and developmental problems they’ll have along the way. Double that with the fact that it’s impossible to give 8 children of the same exact age the amount of attention and love that they require, and you’ve set everyone in this situation up for a pretty bad outcome. This whole industry desperately needs to be regulated, from which doctors should be allowed to practice IF medicine to how many embryos can be implanted. Enough is enough!

potentiate January 27, 2009, 12:59 PM

Absolutely, completely, totally unethical and medically irresponsible to implant so many. I agree with Euro countries that allow a max of 3, tho I could see a sliding scale working based on very specific regulations. Not only is the mother’s health at risk, there’s the babies to consider, PLUS the medical cost! These babies will be in the hospital for months, and insurance compaies will bear the cost…much of which is later passed on to other members of the insurance company. So it’s medically irresponsible and unethical, but also financially so.

Litany January 27, 2009, 1:01 PM

I totally agree that having a litter is not great idea. I know some Dr.s want to make sure a baby is produced from the procedure but 8 is too many!

BarkingDogShoes January 27, 2009, 1:08 PM

While I agree that transferring eight embryos in IVF is too risky, I wonder if she had IUI not IVF? With IUI, fertility drugs are taken first to stimulate ovaries and then insemination at/around ovulation. If she wasn’t being monitored properly during her cycle, her ovaries could have been over stimulated and eight of her eggs fertilized and implanted. I’m not sure at what number (of viable eggs released from follicle) a doctor decides to cancel a cycle. I remember going through 3 rounds of IUI and 2 IVF cycles, one ending in a miscarriage. I am an adoptive mom of two boys, completely SMITTEN by them. If I knew back then (when I was going through infertility tx) how CRAZY in LOVE I would be with my boys, I would have trashed the whole process and adopted sooner.

Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy January 27, 2009, 1:53 PM

It’s so hard for me to say. I have such mixed feelings since I want another baby but won’t be having one (not because of infertility, because of finances ec.) I personally feel that’s too many. We’re not an agrarian society, we don’t need to have multiple children as a source of labor! LOL! I also don’t know how I feel about undergoing these procedures no matte what the risks or outcomes. Some parts of it just seem selfish when there are so many babies and children waiting to be adopted and taken out of foster care. But, I’m sure these parents are happy and children are a blessing.

Amy January 27, 2009, 1:59 PM

Everyone needs to get off their high horse - the right to choose covers cases like this, too. It’s her body, her choice. That’s what Roe v. Wade was about.

Gigohead  January 27, 2009, 3:25 PM

How do one enjoy so much children. You will be so exhausted to give your undivided attention to so much children? I agree that there should be a limit. If this round doesn’t work..try try again. But to put so much embryos is way too much.

Amber January 27, 2009, 11:52 PM

Finally, someone has said something.
I feel it is unethical to implant/fertilize a woman beyond 3 embryos, even then the eggs can split and create many more babies than 3.
This is a very delicate subject, but where do we draw the line? Will there ever *be* a line?
How far are we willing to go?




Andreas January 28, 2009, 2:46 AM

It is very bad for parents (in general) to have more than 4 children anyway. There are a number of reasons, related to family, comunity, country, World, in the areas of economics, genetics, epidemiology, and ethics. Countries must certainly draw the line despite the delicacy of the subject. We need to restrict emigration from countries with high birth rate or/and big population and need to educate our citizens about the danger of supra-population.

The transformation of our women in baby producers, feeders and carers will return them to second rate citizens and revers 100 years of struggle for equal rights.

The supra-population and reduction of genetic diversity will increase rasism and destroy the democracy !

anjie January 28, 2009, 7:58 PM

I’ve seen the Reality show Jon & Kate + 8 and they seem to be doing great and that was just sextuplets. This lady is gonna get as much help and things as Kate and Jon and maybe even more. Kate got a free tummy tuck and Jon got free hair transplant plus all the vacations and neither parent works outside the home so I’m sure this lady with 8 is gonna be just fine, someone call TLC and sign her up!

D Simpson January 29, 2009, 8:07 AM

IVF should be banned, we are spreading the genes that stop these people reproduce in the first place.

It sickens me to hear people say that they would not adopt because they don’t know what they’d get, yet if you knew what you got from having a child we would all live in a perfect feudal hereditary based society.
YOU DON’T KNOW nice people give birth to murders and murders give birth to saints WAKE UP !
Children’s homes are overflowing and selfish breeders are sucking cash out of our health systems to have kids when nature has already said no, it’s about time we started listening.

bree January 29, 2009, 10:20 AM

For one thing, embryos are transferred by doctors, not implanted. Implantation is what everyone is hoping for. Secondly, it is far more likely that this woman had IUI, not IVF, as another commenter speculated. It is much more common to have high order multiples with IUI. This is not to say that she shouldn’t have been monitored and the cycle cancelled if they discovered that she had too many eggs. But none of us can know what her doctors saw during monitoring. Maybe they thought her eggs were of poor quality. Maybe they simply didn’t see some of them. But surely there is no fertility doctor who wants a HOM pregnancy. It’s dangerous for all involved, and it makes the doctor look terrible.

Irene January 29, 2009, 10:45 AM

It is wrong, wrong, wrong. Not only is it dangerous for the mother, but the chances of the babies having developmental/physical issues is dangerous. Now to find out this mother has 6 other children! Why is she undergoing these infertility treatments? In my opinion it is a dangerous scientific experiment and a promotion stunt for Kaiser permanente and the doctors involved!

TJ January 29, 2009, 11:15 AM

What an interesting statement from the MomLogic “OB/GYN” and the various other commentators.

Assuming this was a case of IVF (which doesn’t seem to be conclusive), my understanding is that IVF regularly results in implanting multiple fertilized eggs in the hopes that at least one will take and make it through the pregnancy.

This seems like passing judgement for the sake of passing judgement. From what I’ve seen, there’s no conclusive statement that this was the result of fertility treatment. And even if it were, what would the Momlogic community have preferred the woman to do? Selectively abort some of the babies? That is a behavior inconsistent with responsible motherhood, particularly if she were trying to get pregnant, and comes with the risk of jeopardizing all of the babies in utero.

I realize the irony of this statement, but it seems that momlogic is a community of judgers. So sad to see opinions being based off incomplete information — more upsetting to see Momlogic creating content that isn’t balanced and borderline misinformational.

Robin January 29, 2009, 5:54 PM

I seriously doubt that this woman underwent her fertility treatment at Kaiser. I say this because I was a fertility patient there and conceived my first son through IUI at Kaiser. They were VERY cautious in following my progress. I had two viable eggs at the time of IUI. A dear friend of mine also underwent treatment at the same facility at the same time. She had produced 14 viable eggs during one cycle. The Kaiser docs refused to do IUI because my friend is deeply religious and told the docs she would not reduce any resulting pregnancy—under any circumstances. I think this woman underwent her treatment elsewhere and gave birth at Kaiser. Also, Kaiser does not even offer IVF to its patients. You need to go out of system for that treatment. So, Irene, I think you are incorrect that this was a stunt on Kaiser’s party.

anita January 30, 2009, 7:53 AM

The mom also has a 7,6,5,3 yr olds and 2 yr old twins. Now she’ll be bringing home eight more. I don’t know what her fertility doctors were thinking to agree to fertility treatment. Who in their (literally) “right mind” seeks fertility treatment after having 6 children in a five year span? I really don’t understand….

Anonymous January 30, 2009, 9:54 AM

Why allow a woman who already has 6 kids get fertility treatment ?
What is this woman thinking ? oh right…money, fame, donations, free stuff, goverment help paid by our taxes.. etc.



Anonymous January 30, 2009, 10:02 AM

We’ll be seeing copy cats doing the same thing just to have their Jon and Kate kinda show. I hate the fact that in the future she’ll be bitching and complaining about how stressed out she is with her kids.

Anonymous January 30, 2009, 3:53 PM

where and who is the father to these 14 human beings ?


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