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Three-parent IVF children no different than two-parent children

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Children born from three-parent fertilization (IVF) should function no differently than two-parent children, according to studies conducted by the Center for Family Research at the University of Cambridge. The Center believes that children, regardless of their family structure, function comparatively well socially and emotionally.

British researchers have recently discovered the new three-parent IVF technique  to prevent the incidence of mitochondrial disease passed along from mothers to their children. Three-parent IVF involves replacing a mother’s defective mitochondrial DNA with the healthy DNA supplied through female egg donation. As a result, the child born would contain genetic information from three people.

Due to the controversial nature of the technique, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority launched a campaign to gauge public opinion in order to help make their decision on whether or not to permit the technique.

In 2001 the Center conducted a study that investigated families with children who were born through IVF. The study, published in the journal Child Development, assessed the children on several social and emotional terms. The results found that children born through IVF functioned just as well and were not different from children who were adopted or conveived naturally.

In a current study, the Center is examining the functionality of children who are either not genetically related to either parent or just to one. These are children born from a donor egg or sperm or from a surrogate carrier. The study has looked at children against a control group at the ages of one, two, three, seven and ten. For the youngest ages there was some differences in social and emotional adjustments, but as the families progressed there were no differences.

With three-parent IVF, the child born will have DNA from the mother, father, and the third female who supplies the healthy DNA from her egg. In the end, the child will still have the majority of its genes from the parents, and less than one percent from the third female.

The conclusions drawn from their previous studies leads the Center to predict that three-parent IVF children will functional similar to children with two parents – the quality of the family’s relationship is more important than the structure of the family.

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Controversial three-parent in vitro fertilization could end genetic mitochondrial disease

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Three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF) could reduce the incidence of genetic mitochondrial disease but is causing a lot of public debate. British researchers recently developed the three-parent IVF technique that aims at reducing mitochondrial diseases passed on to children from genetic mutations in a mother’s DNA. These mutations can cause birth defects and diseases.

These genetic diseases, called mitochondrial diseases, are rare yet incurable. It is estimated than anywhere from one in six thousand to one in ten thousand babies are born with a genetic defect causing a mitochondrial disease. Mitochondria are organelles found in human cells. They are commonly described as “cellular power plants” because they generate most of the cell’s energy. When mitochondria don’t function properly, neuromuscular problems can result. In addition, it could also affect the heart, cause vision and hearing loss, seizures, and/or digestive problems. Most of the time a woman will transmit the mitochondrial disease to her child.

The controversy of three-parent IVF lies in its name – there are literally three parents. The procedure creates an embryo from the DNA of a mother, a father, and a second female who does not have any genetic mutations in her DNA. The IVF technique would place healthy genetic material from the donor egg in place of the mother’s defective egg. Although the majority of inherited genes would still come from the mother and father, the resulting child would contain the DNA of the donor. Albeit a very small percentage, it’s still a percentage, and this is what’s causing a public outcry.

The United Kingdom’s Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) understood that this technique would cause a public stir, and in response launched a campaign to see what the public thought. Medical researchers are hoping that the government will approve clinical human trials, but the British health group, Human Genetics Alert, is hoping otherwise.

Human Genetics Alert has expressed several concerns, including that the genetically engineered embryos could result in babies with unforeseen physical disabilities that would be passed down to future generations in the modified DNA.

British regulators will make their decision on the presently banned, three-parent IVF procedure next year.


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Gender selection tourism attracts foreigners to the US

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Fertility clinics in the United States are attracting more patients from other countries with the promise of gender selection. Through the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), fertility clinics can guarantee the gender of a baby with near 99 percent accuracy.

In many cultures is it normal to place a higher value on male children over female. However, in the majority of these regions, including African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries, selecting a baby’s gender is illegal. This conundrum of favoring males without the ability to choose the baby’s sex results in selective abortion of female fetuses. In fact, gender selected abortions are most common in China and India.

Specifically in China, the combination of preference for male children and their 1979 one-child policy has led to millions of gender selected abortions annually. In both China and India, these abortions have worsened the sex ratio. It is estimated that by 2020 there could be over 35 million more males than females in China and in India over 25 million.

More women who want to birth a boy – mostly due to cultural norms and societal pressures – are making the trip to the US to receive the procedure from fertility clinics. The US is one of the only countries that allows PGD to be used for sex selection. For many the trip is their first and last to the US. Although these women are fully capable to conceiving on their own, they undergo IVF. However, this implies that even infertile women from these countries are now able to have male children through choosing the sex of a donor egg.

Many fertility clinics staff multilingual nurses to make the experience more comfortable for their foreign patients and some even go as far as partnering with a travel agent to arrange visas, hotels, and transportation.


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Telling Your Children They Were Conceived Through an Egg Donor

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How to talk to your children about donor eggsTelling your children that they were conceived with donor eggs is never an easy subject to broach, but having a plan and knowing the best way to talk to them about how they were conceived can help make the discussion easier.  Being open with your children helps create positive and trusting relationships within your family and can have long-term health benefits for your children as well.

Do I have to tell my children that I used an egg donor?

Though many families choose not to tell their children that they were conceived through donor eggs, experts in both the medical and psychological fields tend to encourage parents to be forthcoming about their child’s genetic roots.  Beyond maintaining an important level of trust within the family, the fact that your child has different DNA than you means that she’ll need to be aware of hereditary and genetic medical conditions within the egg donor’s family.

At what age will my child be ready?

Telling your child as soon as she’s old enough to understand egg donation helps prevent feelings of betrayal or resentment that your son or daughter might harbor should he or she find out later in life.  Many child development experts recommend including the idea as a part of the child’s identity from a very young age rather than “sitting down” with the child and having one discussion.  By using teaching tools like books, parents can make the concept that the child was conceived through egg donation a part of how they grew up and the child simply won’t remember a time period in their life when they didn’t know this about themselves.

Is there ever a situation where the child should be kept in the dark?

Yes.  Under certain circumstances, it’s best not to tell your child (or reveal the information at a later point in time).  Some of these situations might be:

  • If the child has a learning disability and may not understand egg donation
  • If the child is mentally unstable and may not handle the news well
  • During stressful periods of extreme familial tension (like divorce)

When and whether to tell your child is a big decision, and it’s often one best made with research and the help of a family counselor.  Knowing that you have a plan and the knowledge you need to talk to your children can make the first discussion easier and more manageable.


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Elton John Talks about What Lies Ahead for Son Zachary

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Elton John has son using donor eggsWith the help of an egg donor and surrogate, British singer Sir Elton John and his partner, filmmaker David Furnish, became dads in 2010 after their son Zachary was born on Christmas Day. Now, with Zachary nearing his second birthday, the singer admitted to Radio Times magazine that he worries about what his son will have to go through growing up.

Not only will Zachary have to cope with being the son of a famous musician but of two gay parents, as well. Elton anticipates that this could lead to discrimination from his son’s peers. “At school other children will say, ‘You don’t have a mummy,'” said Elton in an interview with Radio Times. “‘We’ve come a long way, but there’s still homophobia and will be until a new generation of parents don’t instill it in their children.”

In a separate interview with NBC’s Today Show earlier this year, the singer also admitted to seeking advice from counselors about how he and Furnish could help their son understand their unconventional family composition, as well as how Zachary was conceived. The couple used donor eggs, which were mixed with both men’s sperm (it is not known who the biological father is); and the fertilized eggs were carried by a surrogate whose identity couple has chosen to remain secret.

Recently, Elton expressed a desire for his son to have a sibling, though this time the famous couple might opt for adoption instead of an egg donor and surrogate.


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Australian Government Backs Sperm and Egg Donor ID

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donor ivfApproximately 60,000 Australians have been conceived through egg donor practices there is still zero legislation to regulate the practice throughout much of the country. For this reason, the government has backed a Senate committee’s call for donor information to be made available but says there is no constitutional power for the Commonwealth to legislate comprehensively in the area.

More than one year ago, a Senate committee created 32 recommendations and one of them woul introduce a national registry to hold donor information. If implemented, the registration would allow people conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) to find out who their natural egg donor was after they reach 18 years of age.

The Australian federal government said it supported the recommendations in principle but felt unease, saying states and territories should handle the matter with their own preferences. The federal government also supported the committee recommendation to speed up the process in regulating the egg donor ivf treatments.

Lastly, the government response also supported recommendations to limit donors to assisting four families and put a temporary moratorium on records held by government, agencies, doctors and clinics identifying donors.


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A growing number of men turning to egg donations to become single fathers

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Egg donationsAn increasing number of heterosexual single men are choosing to become fathers through egg donations and surrogacy.

It’s a growing trend that is turning heads, as many strangers on the streets incorrectly assume that the nanny is the wife.

These men are turning 40, have yet to find Mrs. Right and are feeling an increasing desire to have their own children.

It’s a shocking development to some who are used to the now more traditional notion of single women starting a family on their own. However, many men carry a lifelong dream to become a father, but their careers, or other notable factors, have prevented them from finding a suitable partner to start a family with.

Luckily egg donations and surrogacy has provided many single men with the possibility of starting a family on their own.

George Manson from New York, tells NewsTimes.com that after he turned 40 his father passed away, and he came across a CNN program about single men having children through surrogacy. Soon after he had a baby girl. He now finds that his new life revolves around his daughter, but it hasn’t been as challenging as he initially imagined. “I received support from people that I would have never imagined, and I even made new friendships through this.” George adjusted his work routine, and says, “My goal before was to save enough money to retire. Now I feel younger thanks to my daughter and I have a very positive outlook on life.”

Granted, for many young men, meeting a prospective egg donor can feel a first date, but a few awkward moments is not enough to deter them from seeing their dreams of becoming a father come true.

Egg donations and surrogacy has been instrumental in this exciting new development, and it will only grow as more single men become inspired to start their own families, with or without a wife.

Posted in: parenting

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British actor and his wife remain good friends with their egg donor

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Egg DonorBritish actor Jason Durr and his wife made the unorthodox decision of allowing their 28-year-old egg donor regular contact with the twins she helped provide.

The couple had fertility problems and struggled to conceive a second child after giving birth to their 7-year-old daughter Blossom.

The couple eventually turned to US psychology graduate, known only as Brooke.

Jason, 45, and Kate, 44, started to try for another baby a year after Blossom was born naturally. But when their attempts failed they were stunned to learn that Kate had entered early menopause.

Kate tells the Daily Mail: ‘It was an enormous shock to the system. I felt very down and responsible. Blossom is a gregarious child and needed a sibling. She was always telling us how lonely she felt without a brother or sister and we wanted to give her a playmate she could grow up with.’

They then learned that Jason suffered from a low sperm count after falling ill with mumps in July 2005.

After the family moved from England to Hollywood, where Jason had secured work on TV shows, they visited a fertility clinic in Los Angeles.

The only option they were left with was either adoption or egg donation.

U.S. laws permit donors to meet the prospective recipients of their eggs – whereas in the UK they remain anonymous. Kate and Brooke quickly became friends.

Brooke said she had wanted to help couples struggling with fertility because of her own background, after she and her identical twin sister were adopted when they were three years old.

Refreshingly, the Durrs and Brooke have opted to keep in touch and make sure Brooke has regular contact with Felix and Velvet, now aged two.

It’s a wonderful story about how families can remain friends with their egg donor, and integrate them into their lives.

Posted in: Pregnancy

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