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SCIENCE

This week : All about ovaries

Text by Eve IRVINE

Latest update : 2009-07-07

This edition of HEALTH looks at changes in giving birth. Medical advances mean that women can have babies later in life and the chances of having healthy babies even after illnesses are increasing.

France is one of the countries’s developing new techniques in ovarian transplants, helping women who have undergone cancer therapy for example, to go on to have children.

 

A twenty three year old woman has recently given birth to a healthy baby girl here in France. That might not sound exceptional but the mother in question had suffered from a rare form of blood disease. In 2005 she underwent intense chemotherapy for it. Chemotherapy would have destroyed her ovaries but before the treatment doctors removed them only to transplant them back again when she had recovered. Four years later the result is a healthy baby girl.

 

Also in this edition, we'll also be looking at the ethics of medicine, for example, the buying and selling of eggs: should a woman be paid if she wants to donate hers?

 

In France a woman is allowed to donate her eggs but the donation cannot be remunerated, the state saying that it doesn’t want to commercialize the human body. The result is too few eggs being donated and thus a steady stream of would be mothers to neighbouring countries such as Spain. HEALTH visits a fertility clinic there where 30% of the women visiting are foreign. In Spain young women are paid to donate and so there is no shortage.

 

Finally HEALTH looks at the age when a woman can give birth. Doctors say that having a first baby before the age of 35 is preferable, citing the risks that rise as one gets older. The chances of getting pregnant lower with age, only one woman in three who wants a child after 40 are able to have one. While the fertility rate for a woman at 25 is 25 per cent, it falls to just SIX percent by age 42.

 

Medically-assisted procreation does not make a significant difference - the success rate above 40 is just seven percent.

 

What’s more, a late pregnancy is risky. One in four women at 40 have problems - such as miscarriage - the advice is to have a child before the age of 35 .

 

Finally HEALTH leaves you with some images of the maternity division of Thailand’s police service. Fighting Bangkok’s brutal traffic problems police there have become experts in back seat births. In 2008, over 160 women used their services.

 

 

Date created : 2009-07-07

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