Monday, December 13, 2010

Life Links 12/13/10

The National Post in Canada has a story on the growing trend to abort via selective reduction one child in a pregnancy with twins for purely elective reasons.
Like so many other couples these days, the Toronto-area business executive and her husband put off having children for years as they built successful careers. Both parents were in their 40s — and their first son just over a year old — when this spring the woman became pregnant a second time. Seven weeks in, an ultrasound revealed the Burlington, Ont., resident was carrying twins. "It came as a complete shock," said the mother, who asked not to be named. "We're both career people. If we were going to have three children two years apart, someone else was going to be raising our kids. ... All of a sudden our lives as we know them and as we like to lead them, are not going to happen."

She soon discovered another option: Doctors could "reduce" the pregnancy from twins to a singleton through a little-known procedure that eliminates selected fetuses — and has become increasingly common in the past two decades amid a boom in the number of multiple pregnancies......

Most obstetrician-gynecologists she and her husband contacted wanted no part of a twin reduction. They were about to use Dr. Evans' New York clinic, where the procedure and related tests would have cost at least $8,000, when they discovered a physician at Sunnybrook would do the reduction, funded by medicare.

"I do believe people should have the choice, given the cost of raising children today," she said. "You want to be able to provide for your children ... to give them the things they need to become the best adults they can become."

In another piece on selective reduction, the Huffington Post has a post by Shira Hischman Weiss about how she "reduced" triplets to twins by aborting the child who they couldn't get genetic results from.
Despite being a busy mother of four boys ranging from one year to eight, I have time to think and reflect: We had been able to see one thing about the reduced fetus on the screen prior to reduction: He was also a boy. While I'm glad to have known that about him, I am sad that I never got to know him. What would he have been like? Did I do something terrible or did I save my other two children?

After the twins' premature arrival, doctors had said not to regret the reduction. They explained that triplets would have arrived even earlier. Many triplets have not made it for this reason, and severe prematurity can lead to severe problems, such as lung issues and extreme learning disabilities. But then I think, well, maybe the doctors would've taken the right measures to ensure that I carried them as long as possible. I would have been given special medicines or my cervix would have been sewn up...

While there are so many possibilities, I have to stop myself from this vicious loop-de-loop of over-thinking. I can not wonder "what if?"

Stem cell researchers have transformed immature human sperm stem cells into cells which produce insulin in mice.
Ian Gallicano and colleagues used germ-derived pluripotent stem cells, which are made from the spermatogonial stem cells. They nurtured these cells in the lab with compounds designed to make these cells start acting like pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin.

When transplanted into diabetic mice, these cells produced insulin, acting like the pancreatic beta cells that the body mistakenly destroys in type-1 diabetes, Gallicano's team told a meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in Philadelphia.

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