McCaugheys' doctors prescribed a drug called Metrodin, rich in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). It is made from urine collected daily from 100,000 postmenopausal women in Europe. (Postmenopausal women produce only small amounts of estrogen, which normally suppresses the production of FSH, so their urine is rich in the egg-maturing hormone.) Typically doctors track the egg maturation process in fertility patients with ultrasound imaging, which allows them to see the small eruptions that develop on the surface of the ovaries as eggs mature. When three or four or more are ripe, doctors give an injection of another hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), to release those eggs from their ovarian nests and make them available to sperm, which are injected into the vicinity with a syringe or through intercourse. Ovarian overstimulation can cause swelling and bleeding of the ovaries and severe fluid retention that can lead in rare cases to heart failure. Women carrying multiple fetuses also are at risk for potentially fatal blood clots and other complications during pregnancy and delivery, and the children often require expensive follow-up care for many years. A set of Indiana sextuplets born in 1993 required three years of state-funded special care, for example, and several sextuplets born last year in Albany, N.Y., have serious medical problems, including one case of partial blindness.
Reproductive medicine is unregulated in this country, in large part because the government, under pressure from opponents of abortion, has banned the federal funding of research involving human embryos. That ban has meant that fertility research has been conducted primarily at independent, profit-seeking clinics instead of by federal researchers, whose proposed experiments must first pass muster with scientific and ethical review boards. Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, November 1997.
Back to The Telangana Science Journal
Back to Vepachedu Home Page