Fertility experts, bioethicists and medical attorneys are speaking out against the doctors responsible for the octuplets recently born to a single woman in her 30s – One expert called it a “medical catastrophe” and another referred to it as professionally negligent.
The problem for medical and legal specialists is the inherent risk involved in carrying multiples. Not only does the mother face serious health risks such as seizures and gestational diabetes, but the babies also face great risks.
Multiple birth pregnancies almost inevitably result in preterm delivery, which puts the infants at a greater risk of cerebral palsy, developmental delays, respiratory problems and other health issues. Those risks increase with higher numbers of multiples.
So you can imagine that a professionally responsible doctor would be reluctant to transfer eight embryos to a woman’s womb after considering these risks. A doctor’s professional obligation is first to “do no harm,” which in the fertility community seems to translate into a more cautious approach to IVF transfer. In fact, the accepted range of embryo transfer seems to hover between two and four per IVF cycle.
It is still unknown exactly how many embryos the woman received; nor is it known where her procedure was performed. Her doctor has yet to speak publicly on the issue. What is known, however, is that despite being born nearly nine weeks early, the woman’s octuplets seem to be doing well.
See also: What is Cerebral Palsy