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January 11, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
The number of embryos transferred during in vitro fertilization has been a controversial topic for many years because multiple births are linked to much higher rates of medical problems for both mothers and babies as well as huge healthcare costs. A study published Wednesday, one the largest analyses on the issue, concluded that doctors can consider transferring two embryos in some women but that there is no justification for transferring three or more embryos in any patient. Several countries have already enacted legislation to bar transfers of two or more embryos -- or more than one embryo among women who have a good chance of pregnancy.
November 21, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
Last week, as the 2012 election season heated up, three researchers reported on American attitudes toward federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Their conclusion: If American politicians listen to majority opinion, federal funding for stem cell funding is more secure than if they heed the party lines, in which case the field may be in for more turmoil. Robert J. Blendon, Minah Kang Kim and John M. Benson, all affiliated with the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote the perspective article, which was published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.  The piece described a polling review project sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
August 10, 2011 | By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
A prominent San Diego attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to being part of what U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy labeled a "baby-selling ring. " Theresa Erickson, a lawyer specializing in reproductive law, pleaded guilty to wire fraud for transmitting phony documents to deceive both the San Diego County Superior Court and couples seeking to become parents. Two other people in the ring have also pleaded guilty. According to court documents, Erickson hired women in San Diego to go to Ukraine to be implanted with embryos created from the sperm and eggs of donors.
July 12, 2011 | By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Fertility scientists gathered in Stockholm last week to present their latest research on in vitro fertilization, high-risk pregnancies and other topics at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference. Among the highlights: British researchers have figured out a way to assess which pregnant women are at greatest risk of miscarriage. After studying 112 high-risk women during their sixth through 10th weeks of pregnancy, the researchers determined that the amount of a woman's bleeding and her level of the hormone chorionic gonadotrophin could be combined into a “pregnancy viability index” that accurately predicted which women would go on to continue their pregnancies in 94% of cases as well as which would have miscarriages in 77% of cases.
June 2, 2011 | By Rong-Gong Lin II and Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times
The medical ethics controversy that erupted when Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets two years ago took a decisive turn Wednesday when the California medical board announced it will revoke the license of the Beverly Hills fertility doctor who helped the single mother of six conceive eight more children. The "Octomom" case focused national attention on what critics have called "the Wild West" of fertility medicine. And Dr. Michael Kamrava, who assisted Suleman by implanting her with 12 embryos, became a symbol to some of the problems in the burgeoning industry.
April 30, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — A U.S. appeals court cleared the way Friday for continued federal funding of research using human embryonic stem cells, a ruling that scientists hailed as a victory for medical progress. Stem cells from embryos are believed to hold great promise for treating hard-to-treat illnesses or conditions, such as Parkinson's disease or spinal cord injuries. But the research itself remains controversial because it makes use of cells from early-stage embryos. "I am delighted and relieved to learn of the decision," said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
January 25, 2011 | By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
The Beverly Hills fertility doctor who assisted Nadya Suleman in conceiving octuplets should be placed on five years' probation rather than have his license revoked, a judge has recommended to the Medical Board of California. The recommendation, released Monday, came more than a year after medical board officials first moved to revoke the medical license of Dr. Michael Kamrava . The state medical board is expected to consider the judge's proposal when it meets Thursday in Burlingame, according to Jennifer Simoes, a board spokeswoman.
December 29, 2010 | By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
The British media is abuzz with news that a triplet was born 11 years after her twin sisters. It seems that, in the age of frozen embryos, all is possible. The Daily Mail newspaper says experts proclaim the delayed birth to be a "record gap" for babies conceived at the same time via in vitro-fertilization. Twins Bethany and Megan Shepherd were born in Britain in 1998 and their remaining sister, Ryleigh, was born last month. Apparently the Shepherds have more embryos from the same batch on ice, the story says.
December 28, 2010 | By Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times
A physician who rocked a UC Irvine fertility clinic 15 years ago, when he and a partner switched the frozen embryos of dozens of unsuspecting women, is being held in Mexico City as U.S. officials race a deadline to extradite him to face criminal charges. Ricardo Asch, one of two fertility doctors who fled prosecution as the scandal in Orange County unfolded, was arrested in Mexico City on Nov. 3, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. He remains in custody as U.S. prosecutors seek to extradite him to Southern California to face federal mail fraud and tax evasion charges.
November 27, 2010 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
Perhaps no scientist has had a greater impact on stem cell research than Dr. Shinya Yamanaka. While most of his colleagues were looking for ways to grow human embryonic stem cells into replacement tissues for treating patients, the Japanese researcher took the opposite approach and figured out how to rewind mature body cells to a flexible state in which they could again become many types of cells. His 2006 discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, paves the way for pursuing regenerative medicine therapies without the need to destroy embryos.
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