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September 4, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Infertility increase seen among Chinese couples

Some 10 to 15 percent of Chinese young and middle-aged couples are infertile, up from 8 to 10 percent a decade ago.

Unhealthy lifestyles, environmental pollution and infections are mainly blamed for the worsening reproductive problem, medical experts told a symposium that started yesterday in Shanghai on the safety of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in China.

"While infection is the biggest reason, an unhealthy lifestyle like smoking and too much night life and environmental impacts like endocrine-disrupting compounds also play an important role in fertility," said Teng Xiaoming, director of Shanghai No.1 Maternity and Child Health Hospital's IVF center.

Endocrine-disrupting compounds -- including pesticides, chemicals used in the plastics industry, and other pollutants -- are believed largely responsible for men's dropping sperm quality and women's endocrine disorders.

Many couples have to turn to IVF, an infertility treatment that fertilizes eggs by sperm outside the womb.

To reduce the likelihood of multiple births and the accompanying health risks, experts urged single-embryo transfers, instead of two or three embryos.

Currently, up to one-fourth of IVF babies are twins, mostly because more than one embryo is transferred to maximize the chance of a successful pregnancy. The natural chance of having twins is one in every 88 pregnancy.

"The current technology can have 30 percent of single-embryo transfer end up with successful pregnancy," Teng said.

"That's only 10 to 20 percent lower than multi-embryo transfer, with much lower risks for both mothers and babies."


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