NEW research has linked fertility treatment with the increased risk of birth defects including malformed hearts, cleft lips and bowel problems.
However, local experts say the risks are low, and may be a result of the root cause of the infertility rather than the treatment. The study, from the National Centre on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities in the US, was published yesterday in the Human Reproduction journal.
Among women who had only one child, reproductive therapy such as IVF doubled the offspring's risk of cleft lip and septal heart defect — damage to the wall between the heart's two chambers — and quadrupled the risk of abnormalities in the oesophagus or rectum.
Professor Michael Chapman, a senior fertility specialist with IVF Australia, said the study was confirmation of a slight increase in risk "from a small number to a not-so-small number". "There's no question that the evidence shows a slight increase, and responsible IVF doctors are saying that to their patients," he said. "But if your only way forward is IVF, then an increase in risk from one in 100 to two in 100 for most people is an acceptable risk.
There are other techniques apart from IVF which can be used to aid conception.
Techniques like those taught by the Pope Paul VI Institute, the Couple to Couple League, and the Billings Ovulation Method Association differ from artificial technologies in that they cooperate with nature by equipping couples to listen to what their bodies are saying. For a woman, these messages can usually be discerned by charting monthly cycles and mucus patterns. According to the Pope Paul VI Institute, couples who have learned to chart effectively have a 76 percent chance of conceiving during their first cycle of use and a 98 percent pregnancy rate by their sixth cycle.
Diet and nutrition are also crucial to achieving pregnancy. According to John Kippley, cofounder of the Couple to Couple League, "In many cases, cycle irregularities can be either eliminated or alleviated simply by better nutrition or body balance." Many other seemingly insignificant modifications—wearing boxers instead of briefs, eliminating nightlights, taking 500 milligrams of extended release B6, using iodized salt—can likewise aid in conception.
Because of its profound understanding of the dignity of the human person, the Catholic Church holds that no form of artificial insemination is permissible.
The primary reason the Church opposes IVF is that these techniques frustrate the unitive aspect of the marital act. The unitive end of marriage encompasses the personal and spiritual good of the spouses themselves. One indication of this breach in unity is that artificial interventions always require masturbation, which is universally condemned by Catholics.
Most people understand that intercourse should be something more than a physical process aimed at making a baby—that the baby himself has a right to be created through the loving union of two persons.
To conceive a child through a technological process that replaces the conjugal act is to subject him to the "standards of control and dominion" inherent to the scientific method. As such, the baby becomes an object of manipulation rather than the fruit of a personal union sanctified by God.
For more information go to Catholic Answers