I read the New York Times online for my news most days. I think their Health articles are especially good and send them to friends often (a habit I am sure they do not enjoy always). Last night an article called "21st Century Babies: The Gift of Life, and its Price" by Stephanie Saul caught my eye. I called my husband over to my laptop and we read it voraciously, both of us indignant at the tone of the article and incredulous over the claims it makes.
The article focuses on twins. More specifically, how IVF can result in twins and how multiple pregnancies are infinitely more risky, and often result in preterm birth. While briefly acknowledging that most twins are completely healthy, there are still risks associated with prematurity. It begins with this:
"Scary. Like aliens. That is how Kerry Mastera remembers her twins, Max and Wes, in the traumatic days after they were born nine weeks early. Machines forced air into the infants’ lungs, pushing their tiny chests up and down in artificial heaves. Tubes delivered nourishment. They were so small her husband’s wedding band fit around an entire baby foot."
After I read that, all I could be was angry. I am quite sure that this woman who had gone through a fertility treatments and a difficult pregnancy did not just think her newborns looked like aliens. I would be she thought they were also the most perfect, desired and loved beings she'd ever seen. And I bet she was extremely grateful for fertility treatments allowing her to become pregnant.
It discusses the irresponsibility of Reproductive Endocrinology and how the "Fertility Doctors" transfer too many embryos to inflate their birth rates and "lure" more customers. It discusses the promising research on Single Embryo Transfers (SET) which are more successful as they are better able to grow embryos to blastocyst stage.
Another major focus is the cost to "society" of preterm infants and how insurers should not have to pay for babies' care conceived via fertility drugs or IVF. It alluded to a national health crisis caused by the cost of caring for babies in the NICU. The article allows for comments, and I read over 100t this morning. Most people wrote something along the lines of "Outrageous! Irresponsible and dangerous industry" or "Just adopt!" as though one could just run out and adopt a child, and not spend many years and many thousands of dollars trying to do just that. Many people wrote horror stories of higher- order multiples, selective reduction and severely disabled twins. A few were more level-headed, and acknowledged the risk of twins but also pointed out that people who underwent fertility treatments were also extremely cautious and well-cared for prenatal patients.
In response to some of these idiotic or ignorant comments, a woman wrote this, and I cheered:
" ... if you, personally, deem care of babies produced via fertility processes just too expensive to pay for, then heck, I guess I'll just deem the exceptoinal costs associated with treating cigarette addicts, overweight diabetics, and any manner of self-inflicted sicknesses out of bounds.
Really, how selfish to continue with your unhealthy and costly habits when you could just adopt an apple."
Go give this article a read, and leave the editors a comment letting them know what you think. Apparently, this article is first in a series and I really hope the Times has something better in store for the remainder.