Fertility clinic assisted births tripled over the last 15 years

embryo donationThe use fertility clinics is going up, way up. According to a new study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention the number of babies born with the help of fertility clinics has almost tripled since 1996.

Using in vitro fertilization treatments and embryo donation programs, fertility clinics accounted for 20,597 births in 1996 and an astonishing 60,190 births in 2009. The report focused on babies born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures and the data was compiled from 441 fertility clinics.

The study also found the number of ART cycles doubled, from 64,036 in 1996 to 146,244 in 2009, but researchers say children born through these procedures are more likely than others to have difficult births because so many are born as twins or triplets.

“There’s no question that you are seeing steadily increasing utilization of these technologies,” said Senan Tipton, director of public affairs for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The latest figures show1.4 percent of all U.S. births in 2009 were conceived with the help of fertility clinics. The highest IVF birth rates were in Massachusetts were four percent of all births in that state were conceived through fertility treatments.
“That’s impressive because most of it is not covered by insurance, and obviously we’ve been in difficult economic times,” Tipton said.

In the study, the CDC collected data on in-vitro fertilization and related procedures that used a woman’s own eggs, those of an embryo donor or donated eggs.  Notably, treatments where only sperm was handled, such as artificial insemination, were not included in the CDC report.

In the next report, the CDC said it may include data on pregnancies from sperm donors, so that the nation can have the best possible information when it talks about the rights of donor-conceived persons and women involved in fertility clinic treatments.

6 Tips To Improve Fertility

There are certain things that can be done to improve fertility and chances of successful conception. According to the National Survey of Family Growth one in eight couples struggle with infertility. For about 20 percent of these couples, the cause of infertility is unknown.

However, there are things a person can do to improve their chances of conceiving, whether they’re undergoing fertility treatments or not. Below, are 6 tips that any woman can follow to improve her fertility:

1. Take a couple’s visit to the doctor. According to The National Infertility Association, one-third of infertility issues lie with males, which is why it’s important for both females any male partner to get evaluated.

2. Get a blood test. A blood test can tell a person’s hormone and micronutrient levels, specifically vitamins A, B, D3, E, and iodine, all of which can affect fertility. If you have unexplained infertility and it turns out that the woman is nutrient deficient, then she could change her diet – and thus biochemistry – to consume more of the vital nutrients for fertility rather than going straight to assisted reproduction, such as in vitro fertilization.

3. Keep track of the ovulation cycle. Many couples are unaware of when they are actually fertile and do not have sex enough to unknowingly fornicate in those time periods. There are ovulation predictor kits that read a woman’s basal body temperature and fertility monitors that can help to pinpoint her most fertile times during her ovulation cycle.

4. Make the appropriate lifestyle changes. Certain lifestyle choices, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and being overweight or obese can affect a couple’s chances of successful conception. In addition, according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health study, women undergoing in vitro fertilization who ate higher amounts of monounsaturated fats, which are found in foods like avocado, nuts, and seeds, were three times more likely to conceive.

5. Manage stress. Although infertility can add to the list of a couple’s stresses, managing stress can be just as important as any other fertility tip. According to a University of California, Berkeley, study, stress increases the levels of stress hormones that inhibit the body’s main sex hormone and subsequently suppresses sperm count, ovulation, and interest sexual activity. Exercise, meditation, and practicing stress management are fun, simple ways to manage stress.

6. Visit a fertility specialist. A fertility specialist can help assess your diet and lifestyle choices, address any underlying conditions, and inform couples of the assisted reproduction options available for them. A fertility specialist can also help women deal with known conditions, such as poor ovarian reserve, that make it harder to conceive.

Japanese scientists create healthy baby mice from stem cell-produced eggs

egg donorsThe science world is abuzz with the latest achievement from a team of Japanese scientists. Researchers successfully produced healthy baby mice using egg stem cells in a breakthrough that, if successfully replicated in humans, could someday relieve worries women may have about the state of their fertility and reduce the need for female egg donation.

The cells were used to create eggs, which were fertilized to produce baby mice. These later had their own babies. The scientists successfully produced three fertile baby mice using the technique, which involves transforming ordinary skin cells into personalized stem cells.

The same Japanese team created viable mouse sperm from embryonic stem cells earlier this year. Together both advances greatly increase the likelihood of radical and controversial future treatments for restoring fertility.

The findings, published in the journal Science, demonstrated that the egg cells created in the experiment produced healthy mouse offspring, and that the offspring went on to produce their own healthy offspring.

The mice also grew normally in terms of body weight and size, had a normal pattern of genomic imprinting, or the way genes are inherited, and were fertile and able to reproduce pups with comparable size of the litter.

The finding is seen as an important breakthrough in research to find ways of producing egg cells from infertile women with defective ovaries. The latest discovery could also one day allow women to have babies after menopause.

Researchers first took stem cells from female mouse embryos and stem cells reprogrammed from fetal cells called induced pluripotent stem cells. They then manipulated the activity of a few genes in the stem cells to transform them into cells that resemble precursors of female sex cells.

The ultimate aim of the research is to help infertile couples have children. If the same methods could be used in people then cells in skin could be turned into an egg. Any resulting child would be genetically related to the mother.

But the research team using the technique on humans is still a distant prospect. Many ethical concerns must first be addressed, along with the necessary acquisition of government support and funding. Regardless, the reproduction of health, living mammals from stem cells is a scientific breakthrough and which may some day render the egg donors useless.

New Study Finds Eating Walnuts Can Improve Sperm Quality

male infertility treatmentUniversity of California researchers found that eating 2.5 ounces (75 grams) of walnuts a day improved the quality of sperm in healthy men aged 21 to 35 and can boost their fertility. Big news, considering approximately 70 million couples around the world have trouble conceiving, with the male infertility accounting for 30 to 50 percent of the cases.

For years, sperm quality in males has been declining in industrialized nations, possibly due to pollution, poor lifestyle habits and an increasingly fattening Western-style diet. Researchers found these fertility obstructers can be reversed through consumption of walnuts, which are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are essential for sperm maturation and membrane function.

One-hundred seventeen healthy men who ate a Western-style diet were used for the study. Researchers divided the men into two groups, the control group, of 58 men, was instructed to avoid eating tree nuts and the experimental group of 59 men was instructed to eat 75 grams of walnuts a day.

Researchers analyzed the men’s semen quality and measured the conventional factors that predict male fertility, including sperm concentration, vitality, motility, morphology, and chromosome abnormalities before the experiment began and then again 12 weeks later.

While there was no significant changes in body-mass index, body weight, or activity level in the control or experimental group after 12 weeks, men who ate walnuts had significantly increased levels of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and showed improvement in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology.

The results indicated walnuts, and their plentiful fatty acids help build stronger sperm, and reduces the need for future male infertility treatment. Other foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids include fish and fish oil supplements, flax seed, and walnuts, which are also rich sources of α-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-derived source of omega-3.

Sperm Sequencing May Help Fight Male Infertility

male infertility treatmentStanford University researchers have, for the first time ever, sequenced the entire genomes of 91 human sperm from one man. The results provide a glimpse into naturally occurring genetic variation and causes for male infertility in an individual, and are the first to report the whole-genome sequence of a human gamete — the only cells that become a child and through which parents pass on physical traits.

According to a press release issued by Stanford University Medical Center, single-sperm sequencing will allow us to chart and understand how recombination differs between individuals at the finest scales. This is an important proof of principle that will allow us to study both fundamental dynamics of recombination in humans and whether it is involved in issues relating to male infertility.

The study was conducted by collecting 91 sperms from a man in his 40s. Published in the Cell journal, the study has paved a clear way to determine the causes behind male infertility. The researchers found certain patterns that cause sperm to develop incomplete genetic codes, ultimately making it hard for the sperm carrier to conceive a child.

One of the researchers concluded the study will provide an effective way to analyze the problems people experience when they have difficulty conceiving and expects the discovery to lead to better forms of male infertility treatment.