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 25 March 2011

Fertility Drugs Increases Risk Of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, A Form Of Mad Cow Disease
A new study has found one of the most common drugs used as part of the IVF process could lead to higher rate of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in women, a disease that is sometimes referred to as a variant of Mad Cow Disease.
Every year over 300,000 US and Canadian women are prescribed drugs to stimulate the ovaries to increasing the production eggs during a woman’s fertility cycle. 
In the United States a reported 2 million couples are infertile according to ‘American Pregnancy’.   There is no doubt that for any couple after waiting, sometimes years to get pregnant, when they hear the news that either she or he has a fertility problem it can be devastating.
With that desperate desire to have a baby many couples will do anything.  Sometimes it seems that is almost what is required.
There is no comfortable fertility treatment, particularly for women, it’s invasive, can affect your health yet the end product is worth it.
In conceiving through IVF about 75% of the 300,000 each year women are injected with a hormone derived from urine. 
It’s a system that relies on donations, all of which is screened to identify Prions .  These are the infectious agent that over time may eat away at the brain.  Over time as the disease progresses the brain, under a microscope ends up looking like a sponge.
While Prions are normally found in the body, it’s when they transform, or coil that they become potentially dangerous to the human brain.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob is a debilitating disease that causes the brain function to deteriorate, similar to the symptoms of someone with dementia.
Currently it’s known that for people aged between 60 and 70 years old the disease will affect around 1 in 10,000.
In making the fertility drug urine is donated, mainly for women, mainly older women who are at risk of carrying higher levels of prion that will trigger the development of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
The study lead by Dr. Neil Cashman, University of British Columbia, published this week in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE found that given the age of the women donating urine the risk is increased of transferring prions in their misfolded form that could be transferred during the IVF treatment.

While it is too early to tell the long term impact of women being injected with urine based fertility drugs, the Canadian team has left open the possibility the need to review their use, and explore alternatives.

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For other major stories:

Planning For Infertility: The Rise Of Egg Banks

Johnson & Johnson: Birth Defects Rise After Topamax Says US FDA

New Dietary Recommendations For Pregnant And Breast Feeding Mothers


Thank you to Jeannie for sending in the following question, can anyone provide an answer?

Is CJD still a risk?  How concerned should the American people be?

Jeannie Richardson

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