The Times of London reported earlier this week that babies ‘concieved’ through in-vitro fertilization are at greater risk for diabetes and obesity. The paper reports:
The changes are not in the genes themselves but in the mechanism that switches them on and off, the study of which is known as epigenetics.
“These epigenetic differences have the potential to affect embyronic development and foetal growth, as well as influencing long-term patterns of gene expression associated with increased risk of many human diseases,” said Professor Carmen Sapienza, a geneticist at Temple University in Philadelphia, who jointly led the research.
There is a possibility that such changes could be transmitted to the children of IVF babies, meaning they could spread through the human gene pool.
Aside from the moral issues surrounding procreation through IVF, there are also questions about the informed consent of parents, many of whom are in the dark about the long-term health affects on their children, which according to previous studies include greater risk for spina bifida. One theory has it that the health problems for the newly created child stem from the drugs women are given to stimulate the production of eggs (they might also be responsible for the disproportionate number of multiple conceptions). One way to reduce the health risks and the multiple conceptions is to reduce the dosage of fertility drugs; however, fertility clinics and patients are loathe to do so because it would decrease the already low number of successful conceptions, therefore increasing the costs to consumers of fertility treatment and decreasing the success rates of clinics.
IVF is dangerous to women and their children. Prospective couples should be made better aware of this fact, as well as the success rates and what happens to unused embryonic human beings (they are usually discarded — a euphemism for killled — or sold for research purposes, and how many parents want that?). Unfortunately, the artificial reproduction industry would rather take advantage of desperate couples seeking any way to “fix” their infertility and build a family, than turn off potential customers with the truth about the possible consequences of using IVF.