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Twin Pregnancies From Assisted Conception Are No More Risky Than Those Resulting From Spontaneous Conception

September 14, 2004

The British High Court three years after the mother of a 27-year-old infertile woman gave birth to a set of twins conceived using in vitro fertilization and anonymously donated embryos has awarded the infertile woman and her husband custody of the children, according to an article in the Sept. 3 issue of the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, the Sunday Times reports. After four unsuccessful IVF attempts using donated eggs and her husband's sperm, the 27-year-old IVF patient appeared to be unable to carry a pregnancy to term. Her 44-year-old mother then agreed to be implanted with donated eggs fertilized by the sperm of her son-in-law, but doctors instead implanted donated embryos when no donor eggs became available. The 44-year-old woman delivered two healthy infants via caesarean section at 37 weeks gestation (Rogers, Sunday Times, 9/12). The case marks the first report of a pregnancy and subsequent birth of healthy twins following a surrogacy in which a female patient's biological mother acts as the surrogate, RBM Online reports (Woodward et. al, RBM Online, September 2004). The case "expands the boundaries of what is permissible in fertility treatment," according to the Times. "It is a very unusual arrangement," Bryan Woodward, the embryologist who supervised treatment, said, adding, "We went through all sorts of ethical hoops, but it was clear it was the right thing to do. People's opposition to such arrangements is dying down." However, some groups opposed to the expanding boundaries of fertility treatment have criticized the case, according to the Times (Sunday Times, 9/12).

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