July 3, 2007 -- The first test tube baby has been born from a frozen egg that matured in a lab before undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The baby girl is reportedly doing well, according to Hananel Holzer, MD, and colleagues, who treated her mother at McGill University in Montreal.
The baby's birth from a frozen egg that matured in a lab may hold promise for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and women with cancer who want to preserve their fertility, Holzer's team notes.
The doctors announced the baby girl's birth yesterday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology's annual meeting in Lyon, France.
The baby girl's mother has PCOS, which can cause female infertility. She was one of 20 women with PCOS who tried the frozen egg IVF technique, which is still in its early stages.
IVF Success With Frozen Egg
The new frozen egg IVF technique involved several steps.
First, the woman got a single hormone shot. Doctors collected several immature eggs from her ovaries 36 hours later.
Next, the doctors matured the eggs in a lab and then froze the eggs. When the woman was at the right point in her menstrual cycle, the doctors unfroze the eggs, fertilized the eggs with the father's sperm, and implanted the fertilized eggs into the woman's womb.
IVF typically involves a lengthier hormone treatment to mature a woman's eggs while still in her ovaries. The new IVF technique involves gathering immature eggs. That means a shorter preparation time and less exposure to hormones, which might be a plus for women with hormone-sensitive cancers.
"We have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to do this," says Holzer, noting that before now, doctors weren't sure an immature egg would make it through the process of being matured and frozen in a lab, thawed, fertilized, and implanted.
"So far, we have achieved four successful pregnancies, one of which has resulted in a live birth. The other three pregnancies are ongoing," says Holzer.
The patients treated by Holzer's team were about 30 years old, on average. All of them had PCOS.
The technique hasn't been tried in women with cancer and is still experimental. Holzer says that the doctors don't want to give "any false hopes" to patients.
PCOS affects about 10% of women of childbearing age, according to the National Women's Health Information Center, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Women with PCOS have high levels of sex hormones such as testosterone that are more abundant in men than women. They also tend to have missed or irregular periods and small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in their ovaries.
PCOS patients may also have hirsutism (excess facial or body hair). Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese, often with extra weight around the waist, notes the National Women's Health Information Center.
- Is your family struggling with infertility? Find support from others like you on WebMD’s Infertility Treatment Support Group message board.