A baby boy has been born from an embryo frozen almost 20 years ago, it has been announced, raising ethical questions about inter-generation “adoption”.
Preserving embryos by freezing has become commonplace in fertility treatment to allow women to attempt multiple cycles without repeatedly creating new embryos.
Now scientists have announced that a baby boy was born in May to a 42-year-old woman after being adopted as an embryo from a couple who created it 20 years ago.
Previously the oldest successful frozen embryo was 13 years old.
The couple who created the embryo had completed their own family through IVF and anonymously offered their remaining frozen embryos to other couples.
The children are all biological siblings although born 20 years apart. The case was written by doctors from the Eastern Virginia medical school up in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Dr Sergio Oehninger 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 using embryos of the older generation.”
Embryo freezing is another method by which women can preserve their fertility for years alongside egg freezing and a newly emerging technique of freezing ovarian tissue. Inter-generational donation has already been raised as a possibility. In 2007 a mother froze some of her own eggs so they could be used by her then-seven-year-old daughter who was likely to be infertile because of a medical condition. If the girl used the eggs she would effectively give birth to her own half brother or sister.
Last year a baby girl was born conceived using sperm that had been frozen 22 years earlier.