Blood Test Might Predict Pregnancy Due Date and Preterm Birth

The blood test is far from ready for use, but research is promising. If it works in bigger studies, it could help prevent deaths of babies born prematurely.

Scientists have developed an inexpensive blood test to predict a pregnant woman’s due date and possibly identify women who are at risk of giving birth prematurely.

The research, which is still preliminary and involved small numbers of women, was led by a prominent pioneer in the field of genetic blood testing, Stephen Quake at Stanford University, who said the test could eventually provide a low-cost method of gauging the gestational age of a developing fetus.pregnancy blood test

The test, which detects changes in RNA circulating in a pregnant woman’s blood, estimated due dates within two weeks in nearly half the cases, making it as accurate as the current, more expensive method, ultrasound, and more accurate than guesses based on a woman’s last menstrual period.

Using a similar analysis of RNA in blood from eight women who delivered prematurely, the researchers were able to correctly classify six of their pregnancies as preterm. If much larger studies achieve comparable results, the test could become a tool to help prevent unnecessary induction of labor or Cesarean deliveries, and could possibly help save babies would have died because they were born too early.

Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States. And 15 million babies a year are born prematurely around the world.

“I think it’s really a very exciting study that suggests an approach that may have a lot of potential for predicting preterm delivery,” said Dr. Louis Muglia, director of the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at the University of Cincinnati. “It can certainly help you understand where the baby is in maturity,” he said, which could aid doctors in gauging when to deliver babies of women who go into unexpected early labor.

In the study, published Thursday in the journal Science, the team, which was co-led by Dr. Mads Melbye, who runs the Statens Serum Institute in Denmark, analyzed the blood of 31 Danish women taken every week throughout their pregnancies, which were all full-term. The researchers studied genes linked to the placenta, the maternal immune system and the fetal liver, and found nine of those genes produce RNA signals that change distinctly as pregnancy progresses.

“RNA is what’s happening in the cells at any given moment,” said Dr. Quake, who is also co-president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which funded the study, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. “We had this idea that we could make a molecular clock to see how these things change over time and it should allow you to measure gestational age and see where things are in pregnancy.”

by Pam Belluck, New York Times, June 7, 2018

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First Czech same-sex couple recognized as parents

The Supreme Court accepted in early May the Californian judiciary’s decision and recognized a Czech gay couple as the parents of a recently born baby, which is the first case of a same-sex Czech couple to be given this legal right, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Saturday.

A surrogate mother gave birth to the baby of the Czech gay couple in California a few months ago.

The donor’s egg was fertilised in vitro with the sperm of one of the future fathers. The Californian authorities then recognised both Czech men as the rightful parents of the newborn baby.Czech Republic

As the child has a U.S. birth certificate and passport, the gay couple turned to defence lawyer Katerina Menclova to help them gain Czech documents.

“I was told that if we want to arrange Czech documents for Karolina (the baby girl), we must turn to the Supreme Court that would recognise the verdict by the State of California, which declared both gay partners the child’s parents,” Menclova told MfD.

The Supreme Court issued the respective decision on May 2, recognising both men as the child’s parents.

Menclova then turned to the Czech authorities that were to issue the baby’s birth certificate.

Defence lawyer Petr Kalla, who is dealing with similar cases, told Mlada fronta Dnes, that the court’s decision is of an immense symbolic importance as for the first time a Czech same-sex couple was recognised as rightful parents, Kalla said.

Prague Daily Monitor – May 19, 2018

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Children of same-sex couples officially recognized in a first for Italy

Three gay couples in the northern city of Turin have been able to legally register their children to both parents, in a first for Italy.

“Today an important page of history has been written,” said the mother of one of the children, Turin councillor Chiara Foglietta.2nd parent adoption, second parent adoption, second parent adoptions, second parent adoption new york

Foglietta, who gave birth after undergoing artificial insemination in Denmark, said staff at the public records office had told her “no form exists” to recognize the child’s birth through the procedure, which is subject to strict rules in Italy.

Instead, the staff reportedly told Foglietta she should declare that she had had the baby with a man. On Monday, the councillor said she “cried with joy” after signing the documents in which both she and her partner, Micaela Ghisleni, were recognized as parents of their son.

The couple’s son Niccolò was one of four children who were officially registered to same-sex parents on Monday, with city mayor Chiara Appendino signing the birth certificates. The other families included two men who are fathers to twin boys, and another lesbian couple whose son was officially recognized.

Appendino, who had earlier vowed to “force the issue” after the registry’s initial refusal to acknowledge the LGBT families, said the recognition was “a strong gesture in a legal vacuum”.

Although the Five Star Movement mayor said that it was not yet possible to make a change at a legislative level, she said she hoped the recognition of these four children was a first step towards such a change.

On Twitter, Appendino wrote: “Today is one of the days when every drop of energy put into politics feels worth it.”

by Catherine Edwards, the local.it, April 23, 2018

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Lesbian mum in Italy told baby won’t be legally registered because she is gay

A woman claims she has been told her newborn baby will not be legally registered because she is gay.

Chiara Foglietta, a councillor in the Italian city of Turin, says authorities won’t recognise her baby, because he was conceived through artificial insemination.

Due to Italian laws, fertility treatments are only available to heterosexual couples.

When she and her partner, Micaela Ghisleni, tried to register their son Niccolo Pietro after his birth on Friday last week, she was told to say she had had sex with a man.

In a Facebook post, Ms Foglietta said she was told by authorities: ‘You must declare you had union (sexual relations) with a man to register your son.

‘There is no form to say you had artificial insemination.’

She said the legal black hole is due to a 2002 ministerial decree that does not foresee that a woman, rather than a heterosexual couple, would seek artificial insemination.

Ms Foglietta used artificial insemination in Denmark to get pregnant, with sperm donated by an anonymous man.

She was told she could lie about the child’s origins but she refused, writing on Facebook: ‘Every child has a right to know his own story.’

She argued that her son came into this world because she and Micaela had wanted a child, and that ‘he is our son’.

Further in her post, Ms Foglietta urged people to do more to tackle the issue.

‘You have an important role and you can do so much more. We can do more together,’ she said.

‘Not for me, but for Niccolo, for all rainbow children, for families who do not have the same strength to face these battles, for the children of single women and those with partners who have chosen medically assisted procreation with external donor and want to tell the truth.’

Metro.co.uk buy , April 22, 2018

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Mississippi high court issues pro-LGBT decision

Mississippi is one of those deep South states that really did not want to allow same-sex couples to marry.

It didn’t want them to adopt children either. And even after the U.S. Supreme Court said states had to let same-sex couples marry, Mississippi fought back for a while to try and keep them from divorcing. So maybe it wasn’t such a big surprise recently when a state court ruled that the non-biological mother of a child born in Mississippi to a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts but now divorcing shouldn’t be able to claim any parental rights.anonymous donor

That’s what happened in 2016. A chancery (or family) court in Mississippi ruled that a child born to a lesbian couple using insemination of an anonymous donor’s sperm was the child of the biological mother and the anonymous sperm donor –not the biological mother’s same-sex spouse.

But on April 5, the Mississippi Supreme Court, one of the most conservative in the nation, ruled unanimously that was the wrong result.

The nine-member court ruled that, because state law prohibits a father from “disestablishing” his paternity to a child conceived by alternative insemination, “the Legislature never intended for an anonymous sperm donor to have parental rights in a child conceived from his sperm –irrespective of the sex of the married couple that utilized his sperm to have that child.”

Beth Littrell, the Lambda Legal attorney who represented the non-biological mother in this case, Strickland v. Day, said that, while the decision is binding only in Mississippi, it can have impact elsewhere. Littrell said it can “help fill the void left by many states when it comes to the rights of children born via [alternative insemination].” And, she said, “it also is significant because it was rendered by a conservative southern state’s court of last resort….”

The Mississippi Supreme Court, said Littrell, “not only added weight to the consensus that biology alone does not establish parentage but did so in a gender-neutral way that recognized that the parties were a legally married same-sex couple at the time the child was born notwithstanding that it was years before Mississippi was forced to recognize marriage equality.”

Mississippi was forced to recognize marriage for same-sex couples in 2015, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in Obergefell v. Hodges) that state bans against equal marriage rights for same-sex couples violates the federal Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

Subsequent to Obergefell, some states –particularly deep South states—tried to buck against that ruling. Mississippi tried to continue enforcing its state ban against allowing same-sex couples to adopt, and it passed a law allowing businesses to deny services to LGBT people and same-sex couples. That latter law is still in effect. Arkansas tried to bar a woman’s name from the birth certificate of a child she had with her same-sex spouse, the child’s biological mother. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision, in Pavan v. Smith, but now the case is back before the U.S. Supreme Court because the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the couple’s right to recover attorneys fees.

And though the Mississippi Supreme Court decision in the current case, Strickland, is not binding outside Mississippi, Littrell said “it is persuasive authority that should be helpful whenever any court considers marriage equality, the retroactive application of Obergefell v. Hodges and the parental rights” of couples who use alternative insemination.

 

by Lisa Keen, keennewsservice.com, April 10, 2018

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Arizona Governor Signs New Human Embryo Law

When a couple is unable to conceive naturally or medical treatments — like chemotherapy — make future pregnancies unlikely, there are a variety of fertility options available, including harvesting a woman’s eggs, freezing them and using them at a later date.

Up until now, reproductive fertility law specialists in Arizona would help couples navigate any tricky ethical issues that might arise in the future, like what happens if you split up or divorce before you decide to use the eggs.Arizona Embryo

But, a new law signed Tuesday by Gov. Doug Ducey has the potential to upend any contractual agreements written between husbands and wives or domestic partners, and dictates who is allowed to keep frozen eggs after a breakup.

Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy, said the new human embryo law helps make the law clearer and it is a positive step for Arizona.

“Just like a judge will decide when there are disputes over property, disputes over who gets the family dog — now who gets the family embryos will also be decided by a judge according to the law,” Herrod said.

by Lauren Gilger, KJZZ.com, April 4, 2018

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NY requires infertility coverage for all

New York’s health insurers will be required to provide coverage for fertility treatment regardless of marital status or sexual orientation, according to new state guidelines.

The state Department of Financial Services unveiled the new guidelines Wednesday, circulating a letter to insurers across the state making clear that they can’t restrict fertility-related coverage if the patient otherwise qualifies.health insurance

“All women who wish to have a child are entitled to insurance coverage for fertility treatment regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status, just as all women have the right to reproductive choice and to decide if and when to start a family, and New York will always stand up to protect and preserve those rights,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

The new guidelines are based on the state department’s interpretation of “infertility.”

State law requires insurers to cover treatment for infertility and use the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s definition of the term to determine when fertility-treatment coverage kicks in.

he society defines infertility as the “failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of appropriate, timed unprotected intercourse or therapeutic donor insemination.”

But that definition is silent on marital status and sexual orientation, which the state’s new guidelines attempt to clear up.

Under the new guidelines, insurance companies must provide coverage for all individuals who meet the society’s definition of infertility, regardless of their sexual orientation or relationship status.

“If an individual meets the definition of infertility and otherwise qualifies for coverage, then an issuer must provide coverage regardless of sexual orientation, or marital status or gender identity,” Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo said in a statement.

by Lindsay Riback, The Journal News, 4 /19/2017

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Transgender Woman Breast-Feeds Baby After Hospital Induces Lactation

When a transgender woman told doctors at a hospital in New York that she wanted to breast-feed her pregnant partner’s baby, they put her on a regimen of drugs that included an anti-nausea medication licensed in Britain and Canada but banned in the United States.

Within a month, according to the journal Transgender Health, the woman, 30, who was born male, was producing droplets of milk. Within three months — two weeks before the baby’s due date — she had increased her production to eight ounces of milk a day.three-parent baby

In the end, the study showed, “she was able to achieve sufficient breast milk volume to be the sole source of nourishment for her child for six weeks,” according to the journal.

Dr. Tamar Reisman and Zil Goldstein, a nurse practitioner, of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York, say the case illustrates that, in some circumstances, modest but functional lactation can be induced in transgender women who did not give birth or undergo surgery.

“We believe that this is the first formal report in the medical literature of induced lactation in a transgender woman,” said the study’s authors, Dr. Reisman and Ms. Goldstein, a transgender activist and program director at the center. They were not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

New York Times by Ceylon Yeginsu, February 15, 2018

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Colorado Supreme Court to weigh if one parent has the right to use frozen embryos if the other objects

During three emotional days of divorce talks, Drake and Mandy Rooks managed to agree on how to divide up almost every aspect of their old lives down to the last piece of furniture. Only one thing remained: the frozen embryos.

There were six of them, created from his sperm and her eggs, and they had been left over from when the couple had gone through in vitro fertilization some years earlier.

The couple had had three children using the technology, and Drake was done. He didn’t want any more children in general, and certainly not with Mandy. She felt differently. She had always imagined a large family and, given her trouble getting pregnant, she thought the embryos were her only hope for having more babies. She wanted them preserved.

The dispute is one of a number of embryo-custody battles that have landed in the courts over the past quarter-century, resolved by different judges in different states with no consistent pattern. Rulings sometimes have awarded the frozen contents to the parent who wanted to use them, while other times determining that they could be discarded.

On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Rookses’ case. Although several other cases have made their way to states’ high courts, legal experts say the issues here are different.donor conceived

“Constitution questions are front and center in a way that they have not been in the other cases,” said Harvard law professor Glenn Cohen. And if the judges decide the Rookses’ dispute on such grounds, that would allow it to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court – where a ruling would apply nationwide.

Cohen said the central issue focuses on how to balance one person’s constitutional right to procreate with another’s countervailing constitutional right to not procreate. The question parallels similar arguments used in other reproductive health cases, namely the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 abortion decision in Roe v. Wade. If women have the right to not be forced to be a gestational parent, do men – or women – have the right not to be forced to be a genetic parent?

Absolutely, says Drake Rooks, 50. “It just seems like a guy should be able to decide whether he wants more children or not and with whom,” he said in an interview last week.

Mandy Rooks, who is 10 years his junior, flips the argument and comes to the opposite conclusion. “No one,” she said in an emailed statement, “has the right to tell me that I have to kill my offspring.”

By | The Washington Post – January 8, 2018

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Why a patchwork of laws makes surrogacy more challenging in Atlantic Canada

On a wall in Terri Taylor’s home, opposite the window that looks onto the quiet Fredericton cul-de-sac on which generations of her family have grown up, there’s a series of family photos.

Some of them are pictures of her own children, ranging from their teen years to when they were toddlers.

Others feature twin baby girls, the much longed-for children of Iain and Haley, an Australian couple Taylor met through a surrogacy website.

Taylor isn’t related to the twins, Freya and Jenna — nor is she related to their parents.Canada

But she does consider them part of her family.

‘We grew our own family’

Taylor points to a picture of herself, her children, Haley and Iain, and the twins clustered together at the centre of the arrangement. This one is more than just another family photo — it’s also the outcome of her decision to become a surrogate.

“I didn’t just grow two babies, we grew our own family, so that centre one is a pretty good representation of that — my new and expanded family.”

In Canada, hundreds of women every year serve as surrogates for other people, and the number is increasing; when the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society started collecting statistics in 2001, around 100 women a year were acting as gestational surrogates, meaning they had no genetic relationship to the babies they were carrying.

Now that figure stands at more than 500, but demand still far outstrips supply.

For Taylor, serving as a surrogate was an extension of the same drive to care for others that had characterized her personal and professional life.

“I was never going to be rich, I was never going to donate a wing to a children’s hospital, so this was a way for me to give back.”

By Moira Donovan, CBC News, January 7, 2018

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