Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 15th 2014 Contents A33
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The assumption that the
Caribbean is a hotbed of fertility
is a fallacy, local experts say.
Rising teenage pregnancies and
large families with up to ten chil-
dren can give a false picture of a
highly reproductive population but,
with a falling T&T birth rate (cur-
rently 15.2 births per year per 1,000
people), the medical director of
T&T s only IVF fertility clinic, Dr
Catherine Minto-Bain, says we are
just about replacing our population.
In reality, she says, T&T and the
rest of the region has major prob-
lems that need to be addressed.
April 21-26 is National Infertility
Awareness Week, a movement cel-
ebrating its 25th anniversary this
year with events where people can
find out about the issues involved.
Male infertility is the biggest
problem. Last year, Health Minister
Fuad Khan revealed that 34 per
cent of T&T s men have a low
sperm count, based on tests over
a two-year period.
At the T&T IVF Fertility Centre
(TTIFC), Minto-Bain says, 90 per
cent of the women who want to
donate eggs are rejected because
they don t have enough of sufficient
quality to be accepted.
Male and female fertility rates
are the subject of ongoing research
but, so far, answers are elusive.
There appear to be no patterns
according to ethnicity, geography
or age in terms of male reproductive
In 2011, TTIFC published a
report and held a symposium
exploring male fertility levels based
on a sample of its 3,000 patients.
They were interested in whether
environmental pollution might be
affecting fertility, but, the MD says,
infertility did not cluster around
any industries in particular, neither
petrochemical nor farming.
TTIFC is now part way through
a UWI-funded research study into
T&T s women, particularly the rise
in the number of women with
It is known that African-
Caribbean women are more likely
to have high numbers of fibroids
(muscular tumours) in their ovaries
than other ethnic groups---making
it more difficult to get pregnant---
and that they produce fewer eggs,
with an earlier menopause.
But the low number of healthy
eggs in women in their late 20s
and 30s was across all ethnic
"Trinidad has big problems,"
Minto-Bain said. "Obesity and dia-
betes are contributing factors. We
currently have 4,000 on our books
and we haven t done any adver-
tising campaign for eight months
as we are inundated. It s all word-
Financing fertility treatment is
a major issue for many in T&T. It s
certainly not cheap---full IVF costs
But the TTIFC has adopted the
UK-pioneered system of egg-shar-
ing. CONTINUES ON PAGE A34
Annie Baker's The Flick has won the
2014 Pulitzer Prize for drama, a play set in
a movie theatre that was called a
"thoughtful drama with well-crafted char-
acters" which created "lives rarely seen
on the stage."
The Columbia University's prize board
on Monday gave the playwright, who is in
her early 30s, the prize for her play about
friendship, morality and loyalty. It played
off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons
last year becoming divisive among critics.
Many admired its attempt to capture real
life but others found it tediously long.
In The Flick, three relatively youthful,
low-paid employees work together in a
rundown movie theatre in Massachusetts
that still shows 35-millimeter movies on
film. Everyday jealousies, disappoint-
ments and anger share the stage with
jokes, chit-chat, occasional poignant reve-
lations and a lot of workplace tedium.
A native of Amherst, Mass., Baker has
created a name for herself for creating
minutely detailed worlds filled with si-
lences and minimal information. Her other
plays include Circle Mirror Transforma-
tion, Body Awareness and The Aliens.
The drama award, which includes a
$10,000 prize, is "for a distinguished play
by an American author, preferably original
in its source and dealing with American
life," according to the official guidelines.
The Flick wins Pulitzer for drama
The Caribbean fertility myth
Dr Catherine Minto-Bain at work in
her clinic the T&T IVF Fertility Centre
in Maraval. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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