A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Lies, damned lies, statistics, and media write-ups of surveys

"Half of all fertility clinics allow parents to pick gender!" trumpets the headline of an MSNBC story.  (The exclamation point is implied.)

Then you read the story, and crunch some numbers.  And it turns out that a whopping 1% of all IVF attempts involve non-medical pre-transfer genetic screening for sex.  (PGD is used in 5% of IVF attempts. 66% of that 5% is for abnormalities incompatible with life; 12% is for "single-gene disorders" such as cystic fibrosis; 3% was to diagnose problems that affect only males, because they have only one copy of specific genes.)  Note that there was no quantification of the number of those attempts that were for "balancing" family (e.g., family already has a girl, and wants a boy), nor was there any indication in the story of how many of the people who were using PGD to specify sex were going to be using IVF and PGD anyway, nor was there any information on how many of those cycles were successful, etc.


Oh, yeah, it's a touchy subject.  But the majority of people who read that headline and that article will come away with the idea that hordes of people are using IVF to select the gender of their children.

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posted by Kate @ 9/20/2006 07:35:00 PM  
  • At 9/21/2006 04:07:00 AM, Blogger Miss Cellania said…

    Figures. They just gotta have those sensational headlines to grab readers. When I read your first sentence, I thought "Can't be. Way too expensive."

  • At 9/21/2006 07:22:00 PM, Anonymous LizC said…

    oh, you know how I feel about this kind of thing. It is grossly misleding-- they love to do it with medical stuff, and it really makes the public so much less informed. I think the editors rationalize it by saying "surely interested people will go read the study and further educate themselves" but in reality they simply have to know that they are lying to themselves. Very few people could read and understand the studies, let alone parse them out to really make sense of the lies they are being fed.

    It is very sad and really pisses me off, because of course so many people make idiotic assumptions and then the stuff gets spread around and people see it in several places so it must be true.... arrgh! The internet doesn't help much, either, since every moron with an opinion can find other morons to gree, without realizing that just becasue someone agrees with you, it doesn't make you right.


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Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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