Wednesday, September 26, 2012

No IVF for Smokers or Overweight Prospective Parents in Fife

According to an article in the Express, the National Health Service in Fife, Scotland is set to impose new rules by which couples will be denied in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment if either prospective parent smokes or if the woman has a body mass index of greater than 30.

Fife is apparently the first health board in Scotland to dictate that both partners must be nonsmokers in order to be eligible for IVF, as well as the first to dictate that the woman must be within certain body mass index parameters.

According to the article: "Dr Brian Montgomery, medical director of NHS Fife, said: 'Treatment criteria have been revised to improve the success of the treatment and the outcomes for mothers and babies. Both partners must be non-smokers and the female body mass index should be less than 30kg/m2.'"

The Rest of the Story

Well of course it will improve the success of the treatment and the outcomes if you limit the availability of the treatment to the healthiest couples. So why not also limit IVF to couples where both partners consume less than 150 grams of fat per day? And why just limit the BMI to 30? Why not set an age limit at 30 as well to improve the success and outcomes?

While the Fife National Health Service is at it, why not also limit IVF to persons who have a body mass index of at least 20, as underweight is known to reduce fertility? And why prohibit IVF for women who consume five or more drinks of alcohol per week, since that has been shown to significantly reduce fertility?

Other people who should not be eligible for IVF, in order to improve treatment success, include:
  • those with autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, diabetes, and thyroid disease;
  • those taking anti-depressants, which have an adverse effect on fertility; and
  • those under high levels of mental stress, which severely impairs fertility.
Imagine the success rates and wonderful outcomes the Fife NHS could achieve with IVF therapy if it were only available to nonsmokers who were thin, but not too thin, consumed less than five drinks of alcohol per week, were less than 30 years old, consumed less than 150 grams of fat per day, did not have lupus, diabetes, or thyroid disease, were not taking anti-depressants, and were living relatively stress-free lives.

Revising the treatment criteria in that way would drastically "improve the success of the treatment and the outcomes for mothers and babies."

Not only that, but waiting times for treatment would decrease precipitously and lots of money would be saved. Plus, population growth would slow, which itself would yield significant societal benefits. It would truly be a win-win situation for all involved. 

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