[LMB] Low-tech uterine replicators

Laura Jane Swanson laurajaneswanson at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 8 15:41:26 BST 2009

>From: Elizabeth McCoy <arcangel at io.com>

>(I do think that "[...] here are several risks, including maternal mortality,
>associated with assisted reproductive technologies" is slightly disingenuous,
>though.  -- maternal mortality is a risk of pregnancy, period. Is surrogacy more
>risky than the usual method?)

Almost certainly yes.  Maternal mortality (and morbidity) is a risk of pregnancy, period, but surrogacy involves some additional risks.  I didn't read the article in question, but...

For surrogacy itself (using the egg of another woman, as opposed to having the surrogate also provide the egg), there are some additional procedures necessary, none of which is without risk.  For example, the surrogate has to take hormones to synchronize her cycle with the timing of the fertilization so that the uterus is prepared for implantation.  That's not risk-free.  The surrogate generally has a higher-than-usual chance of a multiple pregnancy, because multiple embryos are usually implanted.  (They're starting to develop more appropriate guidelines on this in some parts of the world, e.g. the U.S. and Europe, but I bet it's pretty unregulated in India.)  That means higher risks.

I also wonder, at a theoretical level, whether simply carrying a child not biologically one's own might open one up to greater risks.  Pregnancy is immunologically a very interesting phenomenon.  Normally, the child a woman carries shares half of her own genetic material.  I suspect carrying a child not at all one's own genetic material would make certain immune problems more likely.  It certainly makes Rh incompatibility more likely (though that's treatable, and could be an issue with one's own bio child as well).  Some studies have found that mothers of male children are more likely to have certain immune-related disorders later in life, perhaps due to the exposure to cells from the child (small number of which apparently do stick around in the mom's blood for some time).  (I don't have a citation ready to hand for that; it's been some years since I read about it.)

The additional risks aren't huge, compared to the normal risks of pregnancy, but they aren't zero, either.


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