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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 18:39 GMT
First 'frozen egg IVF baby' born in UK
A frozen egg was thawed and fertilised in a test tube to create the embryo
A frozen egg was thawed and fertilised in a test tube to create the embryo
The first child to be conceived from an egg that was frozen and then thawed has been born in the UK.

Little information has emerged about the child, though it has been described as "healthy".

But it has been reported that the child was created from an egg donated by one woman, frozen and stored before being fertilised and placed in a second woman's womb.

The freeze/thaw technique was designed to help women who had cancer and needed to freeze eggs before they had chemotherapy, which could make them infertile.

It could also help women at risk of a premature menopause.

But career women could also use the technique, which can cost around 1,400, to ensure they can have children later on in life.

Around 30 babies have been conceived using the same technique around the world.

But there are concerns that the freezing process could mean babies have problems, which may not be seen until they grow up.

Scientists in Bologna, Italy believe they have developed a technique which will lessen the risk of damage to the eggs.

UK birth

This first UK birth, which was reported in a national newspaper, came after patients of a London clinic challenged a legal ban on the technique last year.

The procedure was carried out at the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre, run by Dr Mohammed Taranissi.

It is one of seven clinics in the UK to be licensed to freeze eggs by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

One hundred women have frozen eggs stored at the centre.

Dr Taranissi has said his patient, who gave birth to a healthy baby, does not want to be named at the moment.

He told the newspaper: "All I can tell you is that she is not a cancer sufferer and she is not suffering from any other illness."

It is not known whether or not she paid for the treatment.

Dr Taranissi also said he did not agree with "lifestyle" babies, and said 90% of his patients are cancer sufferers who are treated for free.

He added: "I object to people designing their own babies on moral, ethical and religious grounds.

"It is a painful and traumatic process. It should not be trivialised.

Under the freeze/thaw procedure, women are given drugs to stimulate their ovaries into producing more eggs than normal.

Doctors then harvest the eggs and freeze them.

When it is needed, the egg is thawed and fertilised in a test-tube, before the embryo is implanted in the womb.

'Moved'

A spokesman for the HFEA said it had decided in January 2000 that enough babies had been successfully born using the technique to license it in the UK, though he warned it still had quite a low success rate.

But he added: "We were moved by the idea of women who were going through cancer treatment. who were at risk of being infertile through cancer treatment, would be able to freeze their eggs and use them later in life."

He added that he thought very few women would put themselves through freezing their eggs and then through IVF, which he called "uncertain and expensive", just because they wanted to ensure they had a baby after they had a career.

But Jack Scarisbrick, of the anti-abortion charity Life, said: "Children shouldn't be the product of technicians in a laboratory. They should be the fruit of an act of love.

"White-coated laboratory technicians shouldn't usurp that role."

He said this technique, particularly when used by career women, was "using children as a commodity", but said the charity was against all "artificial manufacture of children".

See also:

25 Jan 00 | Health
29 Dec 00 | Health
31 Mar 99 | Medical notes
07 Dec 00 | Health
31 Dec 99 | Health
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