February 4th, 2013
06:32 PM ET
Semen quality is a much-discussed subject among scientists these days. Data suggests sperm concentration has been declining in Western countries over the past couple of decades - and reasons for the decline are debatable.
The lead author of a new study on the subject, Audrey Gaskins, has been studying the effects of diet and exercise on semen for several years as a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her latest research shows a lack of physical activity – and too much time in front of the television - may impact sperm count and concentration.
Previous studies have shown a link between physical activity and decreased levels of oxidative stress, Gaskins says. “Oxidative stress” is stress placed on the body as it tries to get rid of free radicals or repair the damage caused by them. Exercise may protect certain male cells from oxidative damage, Gaskins says, leading to increased sperm concentration.
Those findings led Gaskins to complete an observational study on young men’s exercise and TV habits as they relate to semen quality. The results were published online Monday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
July 18th, 2012
06:09 PM ET
For Joyce Mallon, the births of her three children are "a miracle." Conceived on October, 26, 2007, in a lab by in vitro fertilization, the embryos were implanted into her uterus at two-year intervals, giving her and her husband three children conceived on the same day but born years apart.
"They are my Tripblings!! Triplets via conception, siblings by actual birth," she wrote in an e-mail sent to CNN. "I believe our story to be an exciting and intriguing one, that NO ONE in the U.S. (to my knowledge), has any claim to."
Fertility experts say while the Mallon births are exciting, they're not a first. With better freezing techniques, many babies have been born by doing what the Mallons did: creating a group of embryos, using some to start one pregnancy, and then freezing the rest for future pregnancies. Three babies born this way aren't triplets, but rather three genetically unique siblings conceived on the same day and born years apart.
July 2nd, 2012
03:29 PM ET
When Louise Brown was born in 1978, she became the first baby conceived outside the womb, often referred to as a "test-tube" baby.
Now, 34 years later, fertility experts estimate that 5 million children around the world have been the result of their parents using assisted reproductive technologies.
The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies, an independent, international non-profit organization that collects and disseminates world data, presented their estimates of successful births resulting from IVF and ICSI treatments at the 28th annual meeting of ESHRE, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, on Sunday.
May 5th, 2012
06:01 AM ET
Babies conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) have a higher risk of birth defects than those conceived naturally, but the increased risk may stem from the parents rather than the treatment itself, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In the study, among the largest of its kind to date, researchers analyzed more than 300,000 births in Australia and found the risk of birth defects to be 26% higher with IVF than with natural, or unassisted, conception - a finding consistent with previous research.
IVF involves combining - but not injecting– a woman's egg with sperm, usually in a laboratory dish, then transferring the resulting embryo into the woman's uterus.
But virtually all of the increased risk associated with IVF could be attributed to the health and demographic profile of the mother, including her age, body mass index, socioeconomic status, and any health conditions (such as diabetes) she may have experienced before or during pregnancy.
April 24th, 2012
12:21 PM ET
A Houston woman is the new mom of three girls and three boys on Monday, according to Texas Children’s Hospital.
Lauren Perkins was 30 weeks pregnant when she gave birth to sextuplets at 10:26 a.m. by C-section. The smallest of the six babies weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces at birth while the biggest was 2 pounds, 15 ounces.
Mom and her babies - the family has not released their names - are in stable condition, according to the family’s website.
On the website, Perkins and her husband, David, said they had tried for 18 months to get pregnant without success, and doctors weren't sure why they were having trouble. So the couple tried intra-uterine insemination and found out two weeks later that Lauren was pregnant. When she underwent an ultrasound examination it was apparent sextuplets were on the way.
April 12th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
After publishing a report Tuesday on the record low teen birth rate, the National Center for Health Statistics is releasing more numbers on babies in America.
Gladys Martinez and her colleagues at the NCHS have written a report on the fertility of men and women aged 15 to 44 in the U.S. based on numbers from the National Survey of Family Growth that was taken between 2006 and 2010. The survey collected data from more than 22,000 face-to-face interviews.
A few interesting tidbits emerged from the report. The NCHS survey found that a greater proportion of births to unmarried couples are happening in households with cohabitating partners than in years past.
February 8th, 2012
05:01 PM ET
The elaborate courtship displays found in the animal kingdom - a peacock spreading his feathers, the hissing of the Madagascar cockroach - aren't always appropriate in an office or classroom.
Male humans seem to have devised other, less obvious ways of showing off.
A new study suggests that when young men interact with a woman who is in the fertile period of her menstrual cycle, they pick up on subtle changes in her skin tone, voice, and scent - usually subconsciously - and respond by changing their speech patterns.
Specifically, they become less likely to mimic the woman's sentence structure. According to the researchers, this unintentional shift in language may serve to telegraph the man's creativity and nonconformity - qualities that are believed to attract potential mates.
January 27th, 2012
11:04 AM ET
With the EPA's deadline only days away, a war of words has erupted over whether the agency should go ahead with a dioxin study decades in the making.
Vietnam veterans, environmental advocates and women’s groups were among the more than 2,000 individuals and organizations signing a letter Thursday urging EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to publish the dioxin risk assessment.
“We are writing to strongly urge you to finalize the EPA’s study on dioxin, which has been delayed for over 25 years,” the one-page letter says.
November 7th, 2011
06:14 PM ET
Mississippi residents vote Tuesday on a controversial ballot initiative that seeks to define a fertilized human egg as a person with full legal rights.
Anti-abortion advocates crafted Initiative 26, which defines personhood as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."
If passed, the law could affect a woman's ability to get the morning-after pill or birth control pills that destroy fertilized eggs, and it could make in vitro fertilization treatments more difficult because it could become illegal to dispose of unused fertilized eggs. FULL POST
October 18th, 2011
06:45 AM ET
E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic's efforts to conceive have been the main theme of her reality show "Giuliana and Bill." On Monday she revealed she has to postpone her next round of IVF after her new fertility expert insisted she get screened for breast cancer, even though she is only 36 years old.
Rancic said, on the Today Show, that her doctor told her "I don't care if you're 26, 36. I won't get you pregnant if there is a small risk you have cancer. If you get pregnant it can accelerate the cancer. The hormones accelerate the cancer."
Her doctor may have been taking the step as a precaution.
"There’s no evidence for a link between breast cancer and infertility treatment," says Dr. Eric Widra, who chairs the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. A 2005 study looked at a possibility but the study authors concluded a link to breast or ovarian cancer had not been found.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.