Foetal reduction still needed in IVF

Michael Cook
27 Apr 2013
Reproduced with Permission

Two IVF stories from opposite ends of the globe are a sobering reminder that "foetal reduction" remains a failsafe position in clinical practice. In the UK, Sharon Turner gave birth to quadruplets last month -- two sets of identical twins - a one in 70 million occurrence. She and her husband Julian were married in 2007 and turned to IVF after they failed to have children. She became pregnant on her fourth attempt - luckily, because the couple had spent 40,000 pounds, all their savings, on the IVF cycles.

News of the quads came as a shock, but the Turners were delighted. But specialists at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford warned that there were dangers in the birth. Mrs Turner told the Daily Mail: "They gave us three options: get rid of all of them, get rid of two of them or keep them. There was no way we could get rid of them. We were happy to let nature take its course." The quads were born 11 weeks premature on March 30. They are still in hospital but are in relatively good health and will go home soon.

On the other side of the world, in Surat, India, doctors at the Newbirth IVF Gujarat Institute of Reproductive Medicine implanted five embryos in a 40-year-old woman, in the hope that one or two would survive. All of them did.

Then the specialists performed what the Times of India described, somewhat bizarrely, as a "rare IVF experiment", or foetal reduction: "In this procedure, potassium chloride is injected into the fetal heart to make it stop functioning." Three of the five foetuses were killed in this fashion. After 37 weeks of pregnancy the mother delivered healthy twins.