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New Infertility Treatment Leads to 1st Baby: Report

Experimental procedure may offer hope to women with early ovarian failure
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Maureen Salamon

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- An innovative infertility treatment for women with premature ovarian failure has yielded its first success story, an apparently healthy baby boy born in Japan, researchers report.

The boy's 30-year-old mother had suffered from primary ovarian insufficiency, a condition triggering menopausal symptoms before age 40 and a lack of egg-bearing ovarian follicles, the study authors noted.

The experimental procedure involved removing the mother's ovaries, cutting them into small cubes and then replacing them in her abdomen after treating the ovarian pieces with egg-stimulating drugs.

Twenty-seven women in Japan underwent the treatment as part of the study, and researchers were able to collect mature eggs from five of them. The eggs were then fertilized with the husbands' sperm and transplanted back into the women. Another participant is currently pregnant.

"I always felt emotional anxiety [about the treatment approach] . . . but when I saw the healthy baby, my anxiety turned to delight. The couple and I hugged each other in tears," said study author Dr. Kazuhiro Kawamura, director of the Reproduction Center at St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kanagawa, Japan.

"Although we expect our approach to be widely available throughout the world, it is very difficult to repeat it by just following the published paper," added Kawamura, who collaborated on the research with Stanford University scientists in California. "We are now thinking of providing a training course for this infertility technique in Japan."

The study is published online Sept. 30 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

About 1 percent of reproductive-age women suffer from infertility because of primary ovarian insufficiency, according to the study authors. If the new treatment technique aimed at these women -- who currently must use donor eggs to become pregnant -- were to become widely available, it would likely cost at least $15,000, Kawamura said.

In a process called ovary fragmentation, Kawamura and his colleagues laparoscopically removed participants' ovaries, cut the ovaries into strips, fragmented them into tiny cubes and treated the cubes with drugs for two days that stimulated follicle growth.

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