For the first time, more women are having babies in their 30s than in their 20s; women 35 and over account for 1 in 7 pregnancies. Career development, delayed marriage and rapid advancements in reproductive science are among some of the reasons women are waiting to have children.
As the advanced maternal age increases, greater risks come with having a baby. However, thanks to cutting-edge breakthroughs in modern medicine, like cord blood banking innovations and mini-IVF, infertile women have a renewed hope in getting pregnant and delivering a healthy baby.
Newborn Genome Sequencing
There are 30-50 newborn screening tests performed within the first week of life for early identification of disease. While this panel of tests is accurate when measuring the possible presence of treatable illnesses in newborns, genome sequencing provides a more thorough evaluation of both treatable and untreatable childhood disease as well as conditions that could arise when that baby becomes an adult.
Newborn DNA sequencing is somewhat controversial in that it could detect, for example, cancer later in life, and parents aren’t sure that’s something they are ready to face just yet. However, with advancements in genome sequencing technology, including taking blood directly from the umbilical cord immediately at birth, comes lower costs and earlier, more accurate detection of genetic mutations that can help scientist better predict, diagnose, prevent and treat future disease early on.
Cord Blood 2.0
Umbilical cord blood can save lives because of its stem cells can be used to treat illnesses that might develop over time. Over 80 life-threatening diseases are being treated with the help of umbilical cord blood, including those linked to genetic abnormalities, like cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell diseases, resulting from an advanced maternal age pregnancy.
The current industry standard of stem cell collection can treat a person up to 65 pounds. But with advancements in cord blood collection (Cord Blood 2.0), patients weighing up to 165 pounds can now be treated. This means that there are a greater number of stem cells being collected from the umbilical cord at birth.
This innovative program for cord blood banking gives new moms peace of mind knowing there are more stem cells saved to treat her child (or a close relative) if diagnosed with certain diseases all the way into adulthood.
Many infertile women over 40 fear they have no other option than to spend tens of thousands of dollars on one or multiple cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF), which exposes patients to large doses of medications (and the sometimes harrowing side effects that come with them) in order to increase the amount of usable eggs for IVF.
Minimal stimulation IVF (also referred to as mild or gentle stimulation) reduces the amount of medications administered to the woman, possibly preserving the quality of eggs and embryos produced. With less medication and laboratory processing comes a lower price — reducing the cost by half in some cases.
Poppy Seed Oil Tubal Flushing
Initial fertility testing includes an HSG. This procedure injects a substance that passes through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes to get a better visual, via X-ray, to see if the tubes are blocked.
A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that flushing the fallopian tubes with an oil-based contrast better improved chances of conception in some women. In the study, 10 percent more women became pregnant after being flushed with a poppy seed oil-based contrast than a water-based one.
40 Years and Counting
It’s been almost 40 years since the first IVF was successfully performed. Science has come a long way and continues to discover methods to help the seemingly infertile become pregnant and have a healthy baby less painfully, for a lower cost and with fewer long-term risks for both mother and child.