Tough IUI Decisions

For over a year the Stansels had been trying to have a baby. Thomas and Amanda Stansel used one of the best fertility experts in Houston, Dr. George Grunert. Dr. Grunert gave Amanda several intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures. In IUI, sperm is injected into the woman's uterus after she has been treated with hormone injections to trigger the production of a large number of eggs.

Then, Amanda had an ultrasound screening that showed she was carrying 6 babies. Grunert suggested she undergo a selective reduction in which most of the fetuses would be removed. He told them their choices were to have the reduction and keep some of the babies or lose them all.

Rejected Advice

The Stansels decided to reject this advice. As a result, all of the babies were born premature. Three of the babies died a short time later. The other three were in the neonatal intensive care unit for several months. Ultimately, only two of the babies survived.

IUI is the most common cause of quads, quintuplets, and sextuplets. These types of multiple pregnancies are considered the most dangerous type for both mother and babies. Though IUI is known to be less effective than IVF, couples are turning to the procedure more often since it is less expensive, less invasive, and more often covered by health insurance. Even so, one new study by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School shows that since IUI often necessitates several tries until one procedure succeeds, it might just lower the costs as well as the risks of multiple pregnancies if couples were to go straight to IVF.

Governmental agencies keep tabs on IVF results, but the same is not true of IUI. That means that no one has any official statistics on IUI success rates. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that IUI and similar infertility treatments are responsible for more higher order multiple births than IVF and are a significant contribution to the 12.7% preterm birth rate within the U.S.

Acute Care

Higher order multiple births are almost always premature and thus need lots of acute care over a longer period of time than any other type of hospital patient. Though the initial costs of IUI are low, physicians note that when IUI generates a large brood of babies, insurance plans bear the brunt of the very high costs of caring for preemies.

A neonatologist at the Woman's Hospital of Texas, Dr. Scott Jarriel, said that he has witnessed the saga of families whose babies have been in the neonatal intensive care unit for almost half a year. At a certain point, these parents reach the end of their entire, lifetime limits for their medical coverage and must haggle with insurance companies. Jarriel treated the Stansel babies.

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