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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    License Revocation for Sneaky Fertility Doctor Undone by Celiac Disease

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    A Canadian fertility doctor who impregnated patients with his own sperm has had his license revoked.

    License Revocation for Sneaky Fertility Doctor Undone by Celiac Disease - The fertilisation of an egg. Image: CC BY 2.0--Maria Mellor
    Caption: The fertilisation of an egg. Image: CC BY 2.0--Maria Mellor

    Celiac.com 07/08/2019 - A sneaky fertility doctor who used his own sperm to impregnate patients and then lied about it has had his medical license revoked by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. The doctor's duplicitous actions only came to light after the daughter of a patient was diagnosed with celiac disease, even though neither parent carries the genes or has the disease.

    The evidence showed that Ottawa Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin impregnated at least 11 of his patients with his own sperm; without their knowledge and consent. The doctor also impregnated a number of other patients with the wrong sperm--sperm other than that of intended donors.



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    This was Dr. Barwin's third disciplinary hearing before the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons since 2012. The group found Dr. Barwin guilty of professional misconduct and incompetence, and permanently revoked his medical license; he will not be permitted to practice medicine again in Canada.

    “Your behavior has been beyond reprehensible,” said board member Dr. Steven Bodley in reprimanding Dr. Barwin, 80.

    Astonisingly, Dr. Barwin had already resigned voluntarily at a second disciplinary hearing in 2014, and in 2012 had agreed to stop practicing artificial insemination and intrauterine insemination.

    When he was finally confronted, the doctor tried to argue that his sperm had inadvertently inseminated some of his patients by "accident." According to prosecutor Carolyn Silver, Dr. Barwin's excuse was a convenient and questionable lie. “Barwin certainly knew that this was not how multiple patients became impregnated with his sperm,” Silver said. “He knew this explanation was a lie.”

    Dr. Barwin did not attend the most recent disciplinary hearing, but pleaded no contest to the allegations through his lawyer, Meghan O’Brien. Addressing Dr. Barwin through his lawyer, Dr. Bodley said, “It seems immensely unfair that you’re not here to face the victims of your disgraceful conduct...vulnerable patients placed themselves and their families completely in your trust. You completely betrayed that trust."

    One couple who Barwin treated was Davina and Daniel Dixon, who turned to Barwin’s for help in conceiving a baby in 1989. Dr. Barwin was supposed to impregnate Davina using Daniel’s sperm. Dr. Barwin's treatment resulted in the birth of a daughter, Rebecca in 1990.

    When Rebecca was 26 years old in 2016, she was diagnosed with celiac disease, which is genetic. Neither Davina nor David has celiac disease. Blood testing showed that Daniel was not Rebecca's biological father. Eventually, genetic tests revealed Dr. Barwin to be the biological father. “The family was shocked,” Silver said. 

    Fortunately, this case resulted in the revocation of Dr. Barwin's medical license. Stay tuned for more details as information develops.


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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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  • Related Articles

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 11/05/2012 - Over the last 40 years, studies have shown higher rates of menstrual abnormalities and pregnancy complications among women with celiac disease.
    However, the data from these studies have been inconsistent, and inconclusive regarding the actual effects of celiac disease on female fertility. To get a better picture of the relationship between celiac disease and female fertility and pregnancy, researchers recently conducted a more comprehensive study.
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    Because it is an abstract, the study data and conclusions should be regarded as preliminary until they appear in a peer-reviewed journal, where they can be given a fuller context and be more widely scrutinized.
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    Approximately 1,000 women who completed the survey. Of those, 473 had physician-diagnosed celiac disease, while 298 women had the been confirmed for celiac via small-bowel biopsy. The researchers used the group with biopsy-proven disease to compare against 560 women without celiac disease.
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    Additionally, women with celiac disease were shown to have a shorter duration of fertility, to have a later onset of menarche and be younger when they experienced menopause, said Dr. Moleski.
    The data also revealed important differences between women with and without celiac disease. In all, 22.4% of women with celiac disease had consulted with fertility specialists, compared with 19% of those without (P=0.04). Also, 43.3% of celiacs had a history of spontaneous abortion, compared with 36.6% of non-celiacs (P=0.02).
    Compared with the control group of non-celiacs, women with celiac disease also had higher rates of cesarean delivery, 26.4% versus 23.8% of non-celiac women.
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    Among women reporting a history of spontaneous abortion, more than 80% of miscarriages occurred prior to diagnosis of celiac disease, said Dr. Moleski.
    She concluded that the retrospective analysis done by her team shows a clear relationship between celiac disease, fertility, and pregnancy outcomes, and suggests that the results demonstrate "a need for increased awareness of this association among patients and physicians."
    Sources:
    Medpagetoday.com American College of Gastroenterology, 2012; Moleski SM, et al "Infertility and pregnancy outcomes in celiac disease" ACG 2012; Abstract 15.


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 03/04/2015 - Women with infertility face higher rates of celiac disease, according to a recent data analysis.
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    A research team recently conducted a meta-analysis to find out whether women with infertility have a higher risk for celiac disease. The team included Prashant Singh MBBS; Shubhangi Arora MBBS; Suman Lal MD; Tor A. Strand MD, PhD; and Govind K. Makharia MD, DM, DNB, MNAMS.
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    Of 623 women with "unexplained infertility," 20 had celiac disease. The pooled prevalence of celiac disease in women with unexplained infertility was 3.2% (95% CI, 2-4.9).
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    Infertility and unexplained infertility can point to hidden celiac disease.
    Source:
    Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000285


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 11/21/2016 - Even early on, strange inconsistencies caused Dan and Davina Dixon to wonder about her daughter, Rebecca. With dark hair and olive skin, Rebecca looked visibly different from her fair-complected parents. She looked different enough to wonder, as a child, if was adopted, if Dan and Davina were really her biological parents, as they assured her they were.
    Later, in her twenties, Rebecca developed celiac disease, which usually runs in families, even though no one else in their extended family suffered from it. Most of this was merely fodder for curiosity, until the day Davina saw a Facebook post that mentioned how rare it is for parents with blue eyes to have a child with brown eyes.
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    Naturally, the Dixons began to search for answers. As reported by Kidspot, Rebecca was raised believing that Dan and Davina were her biological parents. The couple had tried for years to conceive a child. Unsuccessful, they turned to Dr. Norman Barwin, a gynecologist and fertility expert known by many as Canada's "baby god."
    The couple wondered whether there could have been some sort of mix-up in Barwin's office. Eventually, they noticed Rebecca bore a striking resemblance to Dr. Barwin, himself. Soon after that, as CTV News reported, a woman conceived at the same clinic learned that she was genetically related to Barwin. A DNA test confirmed that Rebecca and the woman were half-sisters, and their father was Dr. Barwin. Apparently, Barwin's role as a sperm donor to his own medical practice was kept secret from both sets of parents.
    The Dixon family is now suing Dr. Barwin for negligence and breach of trust. The lawsuit requests that Barwin turn over a DNA sample, to determine if any other children conceived at his clinic are his offspring, and to notify them accordingly.
    Read more at:
    Kidspot.com CTV News  IJR.com


    Yvonne (Vonnie) Mostat, RN
    Celiac.com 05/03/2018 - Time to spring into action and take control of your celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis! This means I have to "Scare you Silly" about not fully conforming to the gluten-free diet. Anemia, tiredness, and vitamin deficiency will continue to dog you if your gluten-free diet is non-compliant. You know those "just can't resist" items in your diet, the ones where the ingredient list does not actually say it is gluten-free, which may leave you open to cross-contamination that is common in the food industry?
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    According to Healthline experts do not fully understand the effects of celiac disease on the reproductive system. The effects may be caused by malabsorption of nutrients, the impact it has on the immune system, or another currently unexplained reason. Some studies have noticed a link in untreated celiac disease in the mother and recurrent miscarriage, pre-term birth, and low birth weight.  In a meta analysis that looked at studies on infertility and celiac disease, researchers noted that women with infertility were over three times more likely to have celiac disease than the control group. You have to admit that is a large number, and what upsets me is the fact that numerous obstetrician/gynecologists do not automatically send this part of the women's population for celiac disease screening. 
    Yet women with unexplained infertility, were six times more likely to have celiac disease than women in the control group. Despite these studies, not all experts in the field are convinced about the connection. They state that more research is needed. BUT wouldn't you want to know that there is strong evidence that infertility and celiac disease are connected, and at least make your own decision with regards to getting tested? The tests undertaken by people with infertility are difficult to endure, are not only embarrassing but invasive. If celiac disease or gluten sensitivity runs in your family, or you suspect you have celiac disease, make a list of your symptoms. You'll want to discuss your concerns with your doctor and ask to be screened for celiac disease. A Reproductive Endocrinologist is who you would be referred to here in Canada, but you may have another title in the United States.
    If you are vigilante about eliminating gluten from your diet, you will stop the damage celiac disease is doing to your body. This may include lessening or eliminating the impact it may be having on your reproductive system.
     
    Sources:
    https://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pubmed/25564410 Celiac Disease A Hidden Epidemic,  Dr. Peter H.R. Green American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Resource Center: http://www.acog.org American Society for Reproductive Medicine: http://www.asrm.org  Reproductive Changes Associated with Celiac Disease: https://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3001971/  Healthline https://www.ncbi.nml.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600520/ 


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