Jan 06, 2010
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Study Finds Prayers Helped Women Get Pregnant
Study Says Prayer Helps Women Get Pregnant
By Dr. Tim Johnson
N E W Y O R K, Oct. 4
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This week, researchers at Columbia University and Cha Hospital of Korea have hesitantly stoked the fires of medicine, theology, and philosophy with an article reporting that women undergoing in vitro fertilization had higher rates of pregnancy when groups of strangers anonymously prayed for them.
Indeed, it would be a truly wonderful and life-altering phenomenon if scientists discovered that prayer alone could help us bear children or cure disease.
In fact, both self-prayer and the direct support of a religious community have been shown to improve health. Doctors and researchers speculate these religious factors influence mental and physical health by altering brain function, shifting hormone levels and boosting the immune system.
Most physicians however, remain skeptical of the curative powers of anonymous prayer.
Researchers at Columbia University conducted the study with 199 women at an in vitro fertilization clinic in Korea. Unknown to the patients and their doctors, groups of strangers from the US, Canada, and Australia were asked to pray for their success in getting pregnant.
Pictures of patients in the test group were sent to the people praying when the women began hormone treatment and prayer continued for the next three weeks. No one knew which group was which until the three weeks was up.
The patients in the study were all undergoing in vitro fertilization, an assisted reproduction technique in which a man's sperm, and a woman's egg are combined in a laboratory dish, where fertilization occurs. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus to develop naturally. According to the latest statistics from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the success rate of in vitro fertilization averages 22.8 percent live births per egg retrieval.
To the surprise of the researchers, the women who were prayed for ended up with a significantly higher pregnancy rate than those who were not prayed for. "About 50 percent got pregnant in the prayer group and about 26 percent in the non-prayer group," the lead author of the report, Dr. Roger A. Lobo, Columbia's chairman of obstetrics and gynecology said on Good Morning America. The study appears in the current Journal of Reproductive Medicine.