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MDLinxSurrogacy ‘Unicorn’ is Pregnant with 11th Baby: Experts Question Lack of US Oversight

Surrogacy and Safety: A Deep Dive into Repeated Surrogacy and Its Implications

In Ohio, Emily Westerfield, known as a surrogacy “unicorn,” is making headlines as she prepares for her 11th delivery. This situation sheds light on the pressing need for stricter adherence to medical guidelines and regulatory oversight in the surrogacy industry, particularly highlighting the risks and health implications for gestational carriers who exceed the recommended number of pregnancies.

Key Points:

  • Widespread Concerns: Medical experts express concern as Emily Westerfield, a 37-year-old gestational carrier from Ohio, announces her 11th pregnancy, far exceeding the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) guidelines which suggest a maximum of five previous deliveries for gestational carriers.
  • Medical Risks Highlighted: Wendy Chavkin, MD, MPH, criticizes the lack of oversight in surrogacy, noting the extreme health risks associated with multiple pregnancies and deliveries, which can escalate beyond five births.
  • Guidelines Overview: The ASRM recommends that gestational carriers should not exceed five previous deliveries or three via cesarean section, emphasizing the importance of a single term pregnancy prior to becoming a surrogate to ensure the carrier’s health and the baby’s safety.
  • Role of REI Physicians: Reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) specialists are urged to play a pivotal role in enforcing these guidelines to protect the health of surrogates and the children they carry.
  • Legal and Ethical Dimensions: Surrogacy laws vary significantly across states, contributing to inconsistencies in how surrogacy practices are regulated and monitored.
  • Calls for Regulation: Both Dr. Chavkin and Dr. Lusine Aghajanova stress the urgent need for enhanced regulatory measures to ensure that surrogacy agencies adhere to safety protocols and recommendations to prevent health risks to surrogates and offspring.
  • Impact of Repeated Surrogacy: Discussing the cumulative stress of multiple pregnancies, experts warn of the potential exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions and the emergence of new health issues in gestational carriers.
  • Advisory for Surrogates: Physicians advise against surrogacy if the candidate has a history of multiple pregnancies, complications, or health conditions that increase the risk of pregnancy-related complications.

“I think it’s appalling. I think it is medically extraordinarily high-risk for everybody.”
– Wendy Chavkin, MD, MPH

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