in-vitro fertilization

  1. Vitamins boost IVF success

    Imagine that -- good nutrition can help a woman get pregnant.

    Sounds like plain old common sense to me... but to the mainstream, the latest research has been an absolute revelation: Women given a blend of essential vitamins had more than double the success rate of women who took only folic acid.

    The catch here is that all 56 women in the study were undergoing in-vitro fertilization, so a certain level of success was almost guaranteed right out of the gate -- but all of the women had been trying for a year with no luck.

    That all changed when they started taking their vitamins.

    Half got a blend of essentials such as vitamins C and E along with zinc, and folic acid, while the rest got only folic acid. A few months later, 60 percent of the women who got the essentials were picking out nursery colors versus just 25 percent of those who took folic acid.

    Since the study was small and only included women undergoing IVF treatments, there's no guarantee these vitamins will boost the fertility of women trying to conceive the old-fashioned way.

    But if you can hear the ticking of your biological clock, you don't exactly have time to wait for more research on this -- and since these are all safe nutrients you should be getting anyway, go ahead and load up.

    The supplement used in the study is called Vitabiotics Pregnacare-Conception, and you can see all the ingredients right here. A good multi will have most of them, and you can always add a supplement to get whatever the multi misses.

    Whatever you do, skip the meds -- many drugs can have disastrous effects on fertility, and harm the fetus if you do manage to conceive.

  2. Stem cell research approved

    Stem cell research approved

    Believe it or not, a recent Supreme Court ruling says that scientists may now conduct embryonic stem cell research. Justices turned down a petition that argued that the law was unconstitutional because it violates the right to life.

    If you're wondering why this is the first you've heard of this controversial news, it's because the Supreme Court that made this ruling was in Brazil, not the U.S. Had you there for a minute, right?

    The thing is, when you thought I was talking about the U.S., I'm guessing that you were either enraged or elated at the news. The stem cell research issue has become one of the most divisive issues in our overly polarized American society, and quite frankly I'm shocked that it hasn't become a hot button as the 2008 presidential race heats up.

    If you've been with me for a while, you know that I'm open-minded about the medical and health ramifications of even the most politically charged technologies. Case in point: My stance on things like meats and milk products from cloned animals - and biologically enhanced foodstuffs that contain boosted levels of omega-3s and other vital nutrients.

    The Brazilian Supreme Court has 11 justices, and this ruling was by no means unanimous. Six of the justices approved stem cell research, but the remaining five (who didn't contest the constitutionality of the research) believed that it should only be carried out "with restrictions," such as not allowing the embryo from which the stem cells are harvested to be destroyed, and also recommending that each case of research be submitted to an ethics committee for approval.

    Each case submitted to an ethics committee? Talk about bureaucracy! And it would slow the research process horribly. But then, that may have been the goal of the justices who recommended these restrictions.

    The battles over stem cell use are rooted in the moral issue of using embryonic stem cells. Which is what makes this Supreme Court ruling so striking - Brazil is the world's largest Roman Catholic country. The Catholic Church has been vehemently against all forms of stem cell research - and they've already attacked this ruling.

    The National Conference of Brazilian Bishops issued a statement calling it a death sentence. This organization claimed that their regrets over the ruling are "not a matter of religion, but in the defense of human life, beginning with conception."

    On the other hand, pro stem cell research groups believe that this will pave the way for Brazil to become South America's leader in stem cell research and advancements. Brazilian doctors have done significant work with adult stem cells to treat some cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The new law will allow them to conduct research using embryos that are the result of in-vitro fertilization that will be frozen for a minimum of three years.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months. The stem cell debate will surely wend its way to the U.S. Supreme Court at some date, and I wonder if - when that time comes - U.S. justices will be able to make the decision that's sure to cause quite a stir, regardless of what that ruling is.

  3. Sex Selection of Babies

    Back in November (Daily Dose, 11/21), I wrote to you about the disturbing, yet inevitable, specter of human genetic engineering - specifically, the disastrous impact that sex selection of babies would have on our species.

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