Healthy baby born from 20-year old embryo

Healthy baby born from 20-year old embryo

A 42-year old woman in the US has given birth to a healthy baby after being implanted with an embryo that was frozen for nearly 20 years.

The baby's birth mother had been having fertility treatment for 10 years before she received the donated embryo, created by a couple who underwent IVF treatment 20 years ago.

The couple had 5 embryos cryopreserved during IVF treatment in 1990 that resulted in them having one baby: having completed their family they wanted their remaining embryos to be used to help other infertile couples, reported the Daily Telegraph.

This means that the baby born in May this year was "conceived" at the same time as his genetic sibling born 20 years ago.

A report of the case appears in the 30 September online issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility. The authors describe the case as a "a live birth after transfer of cryopreserved pronuclear embryos in cryostorage for almost 20 years".

The senior author was Dr Sergio Oehninger, director of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at the Eastern Virginia medical school in Norfolk, Virginia.

Oehninger, who was also the doctor treating the woman, told the media that she had been going through treatment for nearly 10 years: "she was a persistent lady", he said, according to a report in myFox New York.

20 years is a new world record for successful embryo storage leading to live birth. The previous record was held by a baby boy born in Spain; he spent 13 years as a frozen embryo before being implanted.

Oehninger and colleagues reported that the woman received thawed "pronuclear stage embryos" and underwent "ultrasound-guided uterine ET [embryo transfer]" and that the embryos had been cryopreserved for 19 years and 7 months.

All five of the frozen embryos were thawed, from which two survived. Both were implanted a day later, from which a "singleton term pregnancy was achieved with the delivery of a healthy boy", wrote the authors.

"To our knowledge this case represents the 'oldest' cryopreserved human embryos resulting in a live birth to date", they added.

In Britain, legislators are currently considering extending the period of embryo storage to 55 years.

This has led to a heated debate with some saying that it will encourage cross-generation adoption, others that it is a good thing because it will help women who want to delay having children, while critics say this is is not a good thing if it leads to an increase in elderly mothers.

"Live birth from a frozen-thawed pronuclear stage embryo almost 20 years after its cryopreservation."

Donna Dowling-Lacey, Jacob F. Mayer, Estella Jones, Silvina Bocca, Laurel Stadtmauer, Sergio Oehninger.

Fertility and Sterility In press corrected proof, available online 30 September 2010.

DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.08.056

Additional source: myFox New York (Newscore), Daily Telegraph.

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Section Issues On Medicine: Disease