Monday, October 20, 2008

Acupuncture 'helps women have babies'

Acupuncture could help women undergoing fertility treatment become pregnant, new research has found.
One in three women given the ancient Chinese therapy - which involves the insertion of needles into specific points on the body - alongside their IVF treatment successfully conceived, scientists from the University of Southampton discovered.
The success rate among those who did not combine fertility treatment with acupuncture was one in five.
IVF treatment involves "embryo transfer" - when an egg has been fertilised in a laboratory is put into a woman's womb.
The study, which involved more than 2,000 women, discovered that the chance of the embryo implanting successfully, triggering pregnancy, increased if the patient was treated with acupuncture at about the same time as the transfer.
Its authors, however, found there was no discernible benefit if the acupuncture took place days after the fertility treatment.
They concluded: "Acupuncture around the time of embryo transfer achieves a higher live birth rate of 35 per cent compared with 22 per cent without active acupuncture."
Dr Ying Cheong, from the university's reproductive medicine unit, who led the research, said the findings would offer encouragement for the 33,000 women who embark on IVF treatment each year.
"Our research is good news, because it shows that acupuncture can help with fertility in patients undergoing IVF," Dr Cheong said.
"Whether or not acupuncture helps women achieve a live birth is a controversial issue, and opinion has been divided on it.
"We show that acupuncture, performed at the right stage, can have significant benefit. A woman who does so has a much greater chance of having a live birth than a woman who doesn't have acupuncture."
Acupuncture therapists claim that by inserting very fine needles into points on people's "energy channels", they can stimulate the body's natural healing system. However it is controversial, and many medical experts remain sceptical over its claims. Dr Cheong's research was welcomed by charities that campaign for people suffering from fertility problems.
Susan Seenan, from Infertility Network UK, said: "These results appear to show that acupuncture given with embryo transfers can help improve success rates and we look forward to further research in this area to confirm this.
"Anything that helps improve the success rates for people going through infertility treatment is good news.
"Many of our members report that alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, can help them to cope with the treatment and the general stress."

Monday, October 13, 2008

BBC to pay £½m costs in IVF libel case

IVF libel case:

The BBC yesterday abandoned its claim that a Panoroma investigation into the country’s top fertility doctor constituted “responsible journalism”.
It now faces having to pay out at least £500,000 of taxpayers’ money to Mohamed Taranissi, who is suing the corporation after the flagship current affairs programme accused him of pressuring patients into paying for unnecessary treatment.
BBC lawyers in the High Court ditched a 15-month-old claim that the corporation was protected from the doctor’s libel action by qualified privilege, which shields journalists so long as they carry out “responsible journalism”.
The BBC is still defending the claim on the ground that the Panorama allegations were substantially true.
Richard Rampton, QC, Mr Taranissi’s counsel, said that the corporation had “thrown in the towel” after months of hard work and hundreds of thousands of pounds incurred by both sides. “It follows as a matter of justice, as night follows day, that they should pay,” he said.
Giving judgment, Mr Justice Eady agreed, saying that the BBC must bear the financial burden of that part of the case — estimated by Mr Taranissi’s lawyers to have cost at least half a million pounds.
Adrienne Page, QC, representing the BBC, said that the corporation continued to “stand behind its journalists and its programme and expects both to be vindicated at trial”. Mr Rampton accused the BBC of “grossly exaggerating” the number of medical sources that supported the programme’s allegations that Mr Taranissi offered “unnecessary and unproven” treatment and manipulated the success rates of his two London clinics.
“It’s Alice in Wonderland stuff,” he said. “One of the so-called medical experts was actually an administrative assistant.” He also criticised Panorama for “misleading” viewers, which the BBC denied.
The development came as Mr Taranissi was named as the UK’s most successful fertility doctor in annual figures released yesterday by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. His Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre had comfortably the highest success rate of any British clinic in 2006, with 61 per cent of patients aged under 35 having a baby after IVF treatment with their own fresh eggs. The national average for this patient group was 31 per cent.
The doctor’s other centre, the Reproductive Genetics Institute, took second place in the table, with a 50 per cent success rate for women under 35.
The results are embarrassing for the authority, which has been engaged in a long disciplinary action against the doctor over claims that he treated patients at the Reproductive Genetics Institute without the correct licence. Last year the watchdog declared Mr Taranissi unfit to be the “person responsible” for his main clinic, but it annulled the ruling last month after a legal challenge. The High Court also found that the authority used unlawful warrants to search the two clinics last January.
The General Medical Council is currently hearing complaints against Mr Taranissi from two patients, which he contests.
IVF success rates
1 Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre, London, 61% 2 Reproductive Genetics Institute, London, 50%3= Lister Fertility Clinic, London, 44%3= UCH, London, 44%5 Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, 42%6 Nurture, Nottingham, 41%7= Cromwell IVF and Fertility Centre, London, 39%7= Shropshire and Mid-Wales Fertility Centre, 39%9= Bath Fertility Centre, 38%9= CRM London, 38%9= Guy’s Hospital, London 38%

Source: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (for women under 35 using own fresh embryos)