Controversial IVF Technique Just Produced a Health Baby Boy from 3 'Parents'

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IVF
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Stories about women giving birth to babies conceived using in vitro fertilization (IVF) -- the process in which an egg is fertilized with sperm outside the body -- are fairly common these days. But a new case -- of a baby being born using three people -- is stirring controversy.

On Tuesday in Greece, a healthy baby boy was delivered by a 32-year-old woman who has a history of IVF failures. 

  • The experimental procedure involved using the mother’s DNA, sperm from the father and an egg from a donor woman.

    According to the Institute of Life and Embryotools, where the research for the technique originated, the birth was made possible by a procedure called “maternal spindle transfer.” 

    The method is used to help women with “fertility issues associated with multiple in vitro fertilization failures caused by cytoplasmic dysfunction of the oocytes or rare mitochondrial genetic diseases,” the organization said.

    The technique has been a long time in the making: five years of research followed by two and a half years of clinical work.

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  • Dr. Panagiotis Psathas, president of the Institute of Life in Athens -- says it’s a major breakthrough.

    “A woman’s inalienable right to become a mother with her own genetic material became a reality,” he said in a press release, People notes.

  • But the technique has its critics, and it's controversial for what some feel is the unnecessary transfer of the DNA for the IVF procedure.

    “I’m concerned that there’s no proven need for the patient to have her genetic material removed from her eggs and transferred into the eggs of a donor,” Tim Child of the University of Oxford and medical director of The Fertility Partnership, told the BBC.

    Childs also takes issue with cases like that of a family with mitochondrial disease complications who used the technique in Mexico in 2016 to have a baby and another case of a 34-year-old mother in Ukraine who suffered from “unexplained infertility” who used the treatment.

    “The risks of the technique aren’t entirely known, though may be considered acceptable if being used to treat mitochondrial disease, but not in this situation,” Child continued. “The patient may have conceived even if a further standard IVF cycle had been used.”

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