Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Infertility-Related Health Data Collection and Surveillance

There is a critical need for the collection and surveillance of infertility-related health data. Knowledge of the etiology, risk factors, and social consequences of infertility is lacking worldwide. Environmental and occupational exposures with harmful reproductive effects merit special examination. Additional data must be
collected in order to assess variation in infertility rates by geographic region, understand the predictors of infertility, and design and target interventions. Where infertility treatment is available, the accuracy of common tests used to diagnose the condition and the efficacy of treatment needs to be established. Research on the long-term consequences of ARTs on patients, children and society are also needed. Of special interest is investigation of potentially increased rates of ovarian cancer for women using ARTs and long-term developmental and reproductive effects in ART-conceived children. It is important to determine the costs of not providing treatment such as depression, reduced work productivity and adoption.

In the United States there is indication that the growing use of ARTs is affecting the infant mortality rate, a crucial public health indicator. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), infant mortality climbed in 2002 for the first time in more than four decades. The CDC attributes this fact in part to the increased usage of ARTs, including fertility drugs, as greater numbers of American women postpone motherhood, use fertility drug treatments, and give birth to multiple infants. Multiple births carry higher rates of premature labor and low birth weight which can put infants' lives at risk. There is a continued need to monitor the effects of infertility and infertility treatments; the discipline of public health is uniquely qualified to carry out this research.

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