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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter

Child born after 20-year embryo storage

18 October 2010

By Owen Clark

Appeared in BioNews 580

A healthy baby has been born from an embryo frozen for almost 20 years – the oldest frozen embryo to result in a live birth. The child's mother, 42, had received ten years of fertility treatment, but couldn't conceive due to problems with egg production.

She was anonymously offered five embryos conceived in 1990 and stored for 19 years and seven months. The donor couple had already given birth after IVF treatment and no longer required the embryos.

The embryos were frozen the day after conception at the single-cell stage. Two of the five embryos survived thawing and were grown in the laboratory for two days before being implanted into the mother's womb. Only one embryo survived the pregnancy, but developed into a healthy baby boy born in May 2010 weighing 6lb 15ozs.

Embryos can be stored indefinitely in theory. But Dr Sergio Oehninger, Director of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at the Eastern Virginia Medical School who treated the woman told the Sunday Times: 'We do not want to be thinking about having 40-year old embryos in the freezer. We would have a new generation that is using embryos of the older generation'.

The case study published in Fertility and Sterility coincides with new legislation in Britain allowing embryos to be stored for up to 55 years. The previous record for oldest frozen embryo to result in a live birth was 13 years. The birth by a Spanish woman was reported in 2006.

Cryopreservation is a method of slow freezing used to store embryos conceived during fertility treatment for use in multiple treatment cycles.


The Telegraph | 10 October 2010
Baby from 20-year-old embryo
The Sunday Times | 10 October 2010
Daily Mail | 11 October 2010
Fertility and Sterility | 30 September 2010


10 September 2012 - by Dr Gabrielle Samuel 
Women who undergo fertility treatment using cryopreserved embryos may have healthier babies and fewer complications than those who use 'fresh' embryos, a study suggests.... [Read More]
09 January 2012 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
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... [Read More]
09 January 2012 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
A new study has shown that babies born following IVF using frozen embryos may be born later and weigh more than babies born from fresh embryos.... [Read More]
19 September 2011 - by Dr Maria Teresa Esposito 
A new stem cell lab in Cape Town, South Africa, has renewed the debate over stem cell banking in the country... [Read More]
17 January 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
A Japanese MP has sparked a debate over the country's attitudes towards motherhood after giving birth to a baby boy through IVF at the age of 50.... [Read More]

17 May 2010 - by Dr Anna Smajdor 
When Natallie Evans lost her case to prevent the destruction of her embryos in 2007, many people were moved by her plight. The letter of the law had been followed, but with tragic consequences for her... [Read More]
16 November 2009 - by Nishat Hyder 
A couple from County Derry in Northern Ireland have taken legal action to halt the destruction of their embryos, currently being stored at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, Belfast.... [Read More]
13 July 2009 - by Michelle Hickman 
Years before many people knew that they were infertile or would become infertile a law was made to actively discriminate against them. Many are now on a very tight deadline to save embryos so that they have the possibility of creating a much wanted family.... [Read More]
29 September 2008 - by Sarah Guy 
The results of two related studies undertaken in the US show that a high proportion of infertile couples are in favour of their 'spare' embryos being used for research, whilst over half would advocate theirs being sold to help other couples. Researchers surveyed 1,350 infertile women at... [Read More]

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