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Misuse of In Vitro Fertilisation spurs ethics debate

Feb 12, 2009 01:55 AM IST India India

New Delhi: Thirty-three-year-old Nadia Suleman, a single mother, made headlines last month when she gave birth to eight babies in California. But that medical miracle has now created an intense ethical debate over the possible misuse of In Vitro Fertilisation or IVF, especially since Nadya has already had six children using the same technique.

Questions are being raised about the accountability of the clinic that helped Nadya and the possible health risks for such babies.

"When you have so many babies in one uterus, many will have growth restriction, and that growth restriction makes it harder for them to survive," says doctors in the US.

Other risks include breathing problems, neurological bleeding especially in the brain, intestinal problems and developmental disabilities.

While in countries like Italy and Germany, the number of embryos allowed to be implanted at one go is restricted to three, America gives parents autonomy in this regard.

Back home in India, there are no laws to regulate IVF, but now the Indian Council of Medical Research has now come with draft guidelines.

"Right now the number is three, it may go down to one soon," says Medical Director, Delhi IVF, Dr Anoop Gupta.

Other guidelines say:

  • All clinics involved in infertility treatment must be registered and have qualified personnel.
  • Patients must receive information and counselling beforehand.
  • All research projects must be approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee.

But there is still time before these drafts translate into binding laws.