Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fertility Clinics' Advertising Regulation Falls Short

Many clients adopting from Ukraine have tried fertility
treatments before adopting. Unfortunately, the stories I hear are
often of exaggerated statistics of success and exploiting
parents' emotions. This thorough study of fertility clinics
advertising and marketing practices shows that many are indeed in
violation of the industry policies and requirements.

What has been your exerpience?

The article:



Smiling babies. Confusing statistics. Talk of miracles. There is
too little oversight of how fertility clinics market themselves
online, a new report charges, possibly misleading women about
their chances of getting pregnant.

In the 30-plus page paper -- among the first to examine how
fertility clinics market themselves on the web -- "" target="_hplink">Jim
, an assistant professor of law at the University of
Houston, looked at all 372 fertility clinics in the United
States, that are registered with the Society for Assisted
Reproductive Technology and that have websites. SART, an
affiliate of the non-profit target="_hplink">American Society for Reproductive Medicine,
represents more than 85 percent of the fertility clinics in the

According to ""
target="_hplink">the report
, nearly 80 percent of the
clinics' websites had photos of babies on their homepage. Thirty
percent used the word "dream" and nearly 9 percent used the word
"miracle," which, Hawkins argues, may push patients to disregard
the high costs of fertility treatment (the average cost of a
single cycle of target="_hplink">in vitro fertilization is $12,400) and
create false hope.

"I don't think this creates some sort of deception," Hawkins told
HuffPost -- at least not a deception that would be illegal under
current laws, he said, but showing photos of babies and using
such words may suggest to some patients that success is a likely

The new report also found that many fertility clinics were in
violation of SART's advertising policy for its member clinics.
Among other things, it mandates that clinics providing program
statistics on their website note that comparisons of success
rates "may not be meaningful" because patients and treatment
approaches may vary from clinic to clinic. According to the
report, 71 percent of clinics had that statement on their
websites, but 29 percent did not.

Further, 19 percent of the clinics that posted comparison
statements on their websites, violated the requirement that they
only compare their success rates to national, "" target=
"_hplink">SART-generated data
. Instead, those clinics
compared their rates to other, specific clinics, sometimes in
addition to national averages. And 47 percent of the websites
making comparison statements did not clarify which rates theirs
were "superior" or "exceptional" to. (The report allows that
those descriptions may not constitute actual comparisons that
violate the ASRM guidelines.)

"I hope the research will encourage legislators to take a closer
look at this industry, because the industry's attempts to
regulate itself have not been successful," Hawkins said in a
statement. According to data cited in the report, fertility
services now gross more than $4 billion annually in the U.S.
alone. The "_hplink">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
estimates that 1 percent of babies born in the U.S. each year are
conceived via some form of assisted reproduction.

In an email to HuffPost, Sean Tipton, director of public affairs
for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said, "SART
has an active enforcement mechanism for violations of its
advertising policy. Primarily we try to educate, but SART can,
has and will remove clinics from membership if they are unwilling
or unable to meet the membership criteria."

"In their anxiousness to find fault with self-regulation, the
authors seem to ignore the fact that every physician who performs
an IVF cycle in this country must report that fact, and its
outcome, to the federal government," Tipton continued. "I don't
think patients have much trouble finding information about IVF
success rates."

The Fertility Success Rate and Certification Act, enacted in
1992, requires that all assisted reproductive technology clinics
report their success rates to the CDC. Each year, that
organization publishes a success rate report card, which is
available online.

"ASRM puts out guidelines and recommendations, and the reality is
they are probably not followed by every individual [fertility]
group," said Dr. Suleena Kalra, an assistant professor of
obstetrics and gynecology at Penn Medicine (and a member of
ASRM), who did not work on the report. "But I don't see that as
significantly impairing our patients' ability to seek excellent

Fertility clinics, she argued, are unique in medicine in that
they must provide information on their success rates to the
government. And when it comes to fertility centers, those rates
only tell part of the story, she stressed. For example, a clinic
may often help patients who have been unsuccessful elsewhere,
which may skew statistics.

"At the end of the day, patients have to go sit across from a
doctor, find out if they are listening to them, find out if they
are qualified [and] find out if they are comfortable," Kalra
said, adding, "that's how patients make their choice."

Adoption Services International unites loving
US families with Ukrainian children. We provide a unique
combination of professional, individualized, quality service
(including a maximum guaranteed adoption fee), personal adoption
experience, affordable cost and 20 years Ukrainian

If you or someone you love would like to expand your family,
provide a permanent home for a needy orphaned child, welcome a
sibling for an existing child or discover an alternative for
infertility treatments-contact us to learn more about Ukrainian
adoption, Adoption Services International can help.




Upcoming Events:

Opportunities and Challenges of Ukrainian Adoption: Free
Informational Presentation

Monday, February 4, 6:00-8:00 PM

Healthy U Fitness Studio, Bishop's Plaza, 431 Route 22 East,
Whitehouse, New Jersey, 08889

Free Presentation: International Adoption From Ukraine

Tuesday, February 12, 6:00-9:00 PM

Bernardsville Public Library, 1 Anderson Hill Road,
Bernardsville, NJ 07924

The Ukrainian Adoption Process: Free Informational Meeting

Thursday, March 14, 6:00-8:00 PM

Location: Wellness Rocks: 133 Rupell Road, Clinton, New Jersey

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