Monday April 22, 2019

Increasing popularity of egg freezing among Indians, social stigma continues

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New Delhi: Women were filled with new hope when former Miss World Diana Hayden, 42, brought her first child into the world as a result of freezing her human egg eight years ago. However, societal unacceptance attached to it continues to prove a hindrance to this new age process.

While young Indians feel that freezing of human egg is a smart move for career-oriented women, social stigma continues to be attached to the new-age fertilization process, say medical experts.

Egg freezing is still not very popular in India, said Shobha Gupta, medical director and IVF Specialist at Mother’s Lap IVF Centre.

“People in India still open their eyes wide if they hear such things, especially in joint and conservative families. On the other hand, IVF has been accepted widely in India, but egg freezing is yet to gain approval or social acceptability in India,” Gupta told reporters.

Another expert, Anubha Singh, gynecologist and IVF Expert at Shantah IVF Center, said that “egg freezing is not a normal procedure like IVF or surrogacy, but if you are an individual and you don’t need any family member’s approval, you can definitely go for this”.

The procedure, however, has caught the people’s attention here in the past two to three years.

Singh said it was in 2014 when technology conglomerates Apple and Facebook announced that they will pay for the egg freezing process of their women employees.

“They took the decision to attract more female employees and maintain their retention rates so that they may have prolonged careers,” said Singh.

Internationally, egg freezing is a route that Hollywood celebrities like Sofia Vergara and Kim Kardashian have taken. And in India, Diana has set an example.

Is the method more popular among celebrities than commoners?

“Egg freezing is a costly affair and is mostly taken up by high-profile people,” Gupta said.

The costs of preserving eggs is very high.

In India, freezing embryos costs Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 per month, and the frozen embryo transfer cycle costs Rs.100,000 to Rs.200,000 per cycle. Embryo transfer is the main part of the IVF process – and it usually takes 10 to 15 days to be injected in a woman’s womb.

Thus, egg freezing is mostly popular among Page 3 celebrities or among people with higher spending powers, Gupta added.

“Many couples who work for IT firms, BPOs and in management backgrounds are busy with their careers and delay the baby-making process, thereby, giving them a reason to opt for freezing their sperms or eggs. Besides a prosperous career, the uncertainty of marriage and fear of infertility are two other major factors contributing to this trend (of increasing queries on egg-freezing),” she said.

But before taking a decision, be aware that egg freezing isn’t a sure shot guarantee of pregnancy.

“First of all, the success rate of egg freezing is not 100 percent as chances of viable pregnancies are only 30 to 35 percent. You just can’t freeze your eggs once, sit back and relax. Even if you freeze your eggs at an early age, you have to get your IVF cycle done before you turn 45-years-old.

“So, limitations are always there,” Aanchal Aggarwal, IVF specialist at the BL Kapur Memorial Hospital, told reporters.

In Britain, 18,000 eggs were frozen till 2012. Of these, only 580 embryos were formed, eventually generating only 20 live births, according to an earlier report.

“So, you can clearly notice that the difference between the ratio of eggs which is 18,000 and live births which is only 20,” said Singh, adding: “It is best if you freeze embryos (combination of eggs and sperm) rather than eggs.”

“The cost of freezing embryos is the same as the cost of freezing eggs, but freezing embryos is more result-oriented in comparison,” Singh concluded.(Nivedita, IANS) (Image source: vogue.com)

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IoT in Healthcare at Serious Cyber Attack Risk, Say Experts

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman

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Misuse of antibiotic drugs have lead to the threat of antimicrobial resistance, Pixabay

While the healthcare industry is rapidly adopting new-age technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve access and outcomes especially in the rural areas, companies must ensure that the technology acts with responsibility and transparency, say experts.

In recent years, India has seen IoT adoption in education, governance and financial services. The technology has also enabled doctors see and interact with patients in remote telemedicine centres – with the case history and medical data automatically transmitted to the doctor for analysis.

“India has an acute shortage of doctors which impacts both the quality and reach of healthcare services in rural and urban centres,” John Samuel, Managing Director (health and public service) at Accenture, told IANS.

“A digital platform powered by advanced digital technologies can enable continuous remote patient monitoring and reporting, allowing hospitals to extend care to more people, and reduce the burden on healthcare infrastructure,” Samuel added.

According to the “IoT India Congress 2018”, the Indian IoT market is expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2016 to $9 billion by 2020 across sectors such as telecom, health, vehicles and homes, among others.

It is emerging as the next big thing to become a $300 billion global industry by 2020 and India is all set to capture at least 20 per cent market share in the next five years, says a Nasscom report.

However, lack of basic security awareness among staff as well as state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions has made the healthcare industry a favourite target for hackers.

A 2016 report from cybersecurity firm SecurityScorecard found that healthcare is the fifth highest in ransomware counts among all industries, and more than 77 per cent of the entire healthcare industry has been infected with malware since August 2015.

FILE – The U.S. campaign for the smart use of antibiotics parallels similar efforts in Europe and Canada.

Among them was the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack in 2016 which affected over 300,000 machines across 150,000 countries, including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

“Despite suffering from ransomware attacks, organisations remain unprepared for the next round of large-scale attacks,” Yariv Fishman, Head of Product Management (Cloud Security and IoT) at Check Point Software Technologies, told IANS in an email interaction.

Fishman pointed out that it is not mandatory for medical device manufacturers to include cybersecurity capabilities as part of their offerings.

Once integrated into a hospital, medical devices are fully utilised to meet patient care requirements.

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As a result, even if a software patch that may prevent a potential cyber-attack is available, it usually takes lot of time for implementation.

Other reasons include old or unpatched operating systems and flat networks in which, guests, patients, doctors and connected medical devices, all share the same network.

To ensure security, medical device designers (particularly those with IoT components) should have a 360 degree view of the various parts of the network, said Fishman.

“They also need to segment parts of the network in order to contain malware attacks and mitigate the potential risk of one part of the network attacking other parts and integrate threat prevention solutions,” he noted. (IANS)