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IVF 'twins' born five years apart

09 January 2012

By Dr Louisa Petchey

Appeared in BioNews 639

Five-year-old Reuben Blake has already started school, but his 'twin' sister Floren, conceived during the same IVF treatment cycle, has only just been born.

Jody and Simon Blake sought fertility treatment from the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine in September 2005, and the treatment led to the birth of their son Reuben in December 2006. Floren was one of three spare embryos which were kept frozen until the couple decided to try for a second baby five years later.

'I find it very difficult to resist the temptation to say, "Oh, and by the way they are twins"', said Simon Blake, Floren and Reuben's father. 'It's hard to comprehend that a life could come from material that's been frozen for that length of time'.

Floren is the product of the only one of the three frozen embryos which survived. The frozen storage of spare embryos for up to ten years is relatively common in the UK as it allows the embryos to be used in future IVF treatments, avoiding the risk or expense associated with fertility drugs or a further round of egg collection.

'We very often recommend storing surplus embryos so that they can be used at a later date', said Dr Valentine Akande, director of fertility services at the Bristol Centre. But, he added, 'not everybody is able to have those surplus embryos and, of course, not everybody meets with success when they are used'.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the UK regulator for fertility treatments, says that current evidence suggests that there are no long term health problems associated with children born from frozen embryos, regardless of how long they have been stored for.

Children conceived by IVF have a greater chance of being one of a pair of twins. Often two embryos are implanted at once to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Should both embryos reach full term non-identical twins will be born. There is also some evidence to suggest that IVF treatment increases the likelihood of having identical twins after one fertilised egg divides into two embryos. Neither of these scenarios apply to Reuben and Floren.

HFEA | 14 April 2009
The Sun | 04 January 2012
Twins are born five years apart
Press Association | 05 January 2012
Guardian | 04 January 2012
BBC News | 04 January 2012
Mail Online | 04 January 2012


15 August 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
An Israeli court has granted permission for a family to extract and freeze eggs from their deceased daughter's ovaries...
16 May 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
A fertility clinic in Amsterdam has announced it is to offer egg freezing techniques on social grounds despite professional bodies recommending that the procedure be investigated further....
18 October 2010 - by Owen Clark 
A healthy baby has been born from an embryo frozen for almost 20 years – the oldest frozen embryo to result in a live birth...
12 July 2010 - by Dr Tamara Hirsch 
More than half of US fertility clinics are now prepared to 'freeze' eggs, a new study has revealed. This option was traditionally reserved for women undergoing cancer therapy or for other medical reasons...

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