Actress Gabrielle Union, 46, and NBA star Dwyane Wade, 36 (pictured above), used IVF to produce their newborn daughter who was born via a surrogate last week.
Michelle Obama, 57, recently revealed she suffered a miscarriage that led her to use in vitro fertilization to conceive her 2 daughters Malia, 20, and Sasha, 17.
And former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kenya Moore, 47, announced she conceived her newborn daughter, Brooklyn, via IVF.
These stars have been open and honest about their infertility issues, but such honest revelations from celebrities were rare just 6 years ago.
In vitro fertilization is an expensive option for women who have a history of miscarriages or fertility problems.
IVF involves the use of injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce viable eggs. A doctor collects the eggs using an ultrasound-guided needle. The egg is injected with your partner’s sperm, and a fertilized embryo is implanted in your womb.
The procedure can be carried out with your eggs and your partner’s sperm, or donor eggs/sperm.
The world’s first “test tube baby”, England’s Louise Brown, turned 40 this year. Her miraculous conception was secretly funded by a millionaire heiress who struggled with her own fertility problems.
40 years later, IVF procedures remain an option only for the wealthy, or for women who have good insurance that covers most of the minimum $30,000 fee.
IVF babies tend to be happy and emotionally secure because they are cherished and adored by their parents, some of whom struggled for many years to have children.
But IVF isn’t without risks or health problems.
Scientists believe IVF and assisted reproduction procedures interfere with a normal genetic process called imprinting which occurs naturally in the womb. This interference stops certain genes from turning on or off naturally.
Children born through IVF are at greater risk of birth defects, low birth weight, and neurological deficits such as problems with their hearing and vision.
Over 30 percent of children born via IVF wear corrective lenses such as eyeglasses or contacts.
Recent studies show that the risk of certain cancers is three times higher in IVF babies.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2017 found that “Children conceived after fertility treatments are at an increased risk for pediatric neoplasms [abnormal tissue growth associated with cancer].”
The study found that IVF babies were 2.5 times more likely to develop neoplasms than children born naturally.
Another study from Israel that followed 158 IVF children born in the same facility found that the children had significantly more doctor’s appointments than their peers.
But there is also good news! The same study found that IVF adolescents who were discharged from military service were exempt due to personality disorders and behavioral problems, not due to health problems. The IVF children in Israel also scored slightly higher on intelligence and cognitive tests than their peers.
Researchers don’t know the life expectancy of IVF babies, since there isn’t a population of IVF adults older than 40.
Other known health problems linked to IVF are listed below.
Exstrophyepispadias complex (EC)
Exstrophyepispadias complex is an extremely rare defect of the bladder and other structures of the genitourinary system. The condition involves a malformation of the bladder that turns the bladder inside out. The genitals can also be affected. Surgery corrects the defects and the children go on to live normal lives.
EC affects 28 out of 100,000 children born via IVF. It is 5 times more likely to occur in boys than girls.
Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS)
BWS is four times more common in IVF children. A study by the Cancer Research UK found that 150 IVF babies had rare types of kidney tumor, liver tumor and tumors of the nervous system that are linked to BWS.
Angelman Syndrome is a neurological condition that is found more often in IVF babies produced from eggs that were frozen for years, then thawed out. Experts say the process of freezing and thawing the eggs damages their genetic structure.
Despite the small risks involved, IVF and assisted reproduction are still the best options for women with a history of miscarriages and fertility problems, or women who delayed having children until after age 35 to focus on their careers.
Photos by Kevin Winter/Getty Images, Instagram.com