Do you know the science behind the babies born from frozen embryos? How the process takes place and everything and all?
You may have recently heard about a story of the baby born from a frozen embryo after a gap of 24 years, possibly the longest gap ever till now.
A baby has been born from an embryo frozen for nearly 24 years. This gap between conception and birth since IVF began possibly is the longest gap being recorded. It’s the longest an embryo is known to have been frozen before being born as a baby and the science behind the baby born from a frozen embryo is just a matter of incredible advancement in medical science and technology.
A 26-year-old American woman has given birth to a baby that grew from an embryo frozen 24 years earlier. Tina Gibson, from East Tennessee in the U.S gave birth to Emma Gibson in November 2017. Emma grew from an embryo that was originally frozen on 14 October 1992.
The fact is that the embryo that became Emma is only a year younger than the woman who gave birth to her, Tina Gibson. This baby and Tina could have been best friends, say’s Tina with a funny tone. Isn’t that incredible?
After learning about the fact that Tina’s husband was likely infertile they did adopt the frozen embryo that actually came from an anonymous couple who went through In-Vitro Fertilization (where sperm and egg are united in a lab) and donated their remaining frozen embryos, which have remained suspended for more than two decades.
The embryo was transferred into Tina’s uterus by the National Embryo Donation Center, a faith-based organization in Tennessee.
There decision that was something that was going to be a record of giving birth to a “snowflake baby,” a term that refers to a child born from a frozen embryo that was implanted into a woman’s uterus.
The rapid pace of research in the areas of fertility and reproduction raises some mind-boggling questions about the future. Will we conceive and grow babies entirely in laboratories – making sex and pregnancy a thing of the past? And will all future babies be “genetically designed”? That’s sounds amazing about the medical science and technology.
Do You Know?
This technique is also known as the Embryo Freezing & Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET), is the technique for couples who produce more embryos during an IVF cycle than are required for their initial transfer. The remaining embryos, if sufficiently healthy to survive the freezing process, can be frozen at -196°C in liquid Nitrogen and safely stored for 5 to 10 years or more. When the couple is ready for further treatment they can be thawed out and transferred into the woman’s uterus without her having to go through all the steps (injections and egg collection) involved in a full IVF cycle.
The first reported birth from this technique was in 1983. A pregnancy rate of 14% to 35% is expected depending on the woman’s age and the number and quality of the embryos transferred.
Let’s Know The Science Behind The Babies Born From Frozen Embryos.
1. Why do we freeze embryos?
Sometimes during an IVF cycle, couples who produce more embryos are then usually recommended to transfer one to the uterus, and freezing the others and preserving them for future use. This is due to the serious risks associated with multiple pregnancies if you transfer more than one embryo at a time so it is necessary to so do.
2. What are the benefits of a frozen embryo transfer?
Embryo freezing gives more opportunities to become pregnant for each hormone stimulation cycle and egg collection. It is also when a woman doesn’t become pregnant from the first transfer from that cycle, then newly frozen embryo can be transferred during that transfer cycle. In other words, which means the woman won’t have to undergo another hormone stimulation cycle and egg collection.
3. What is the success rate with frozen embryos?
The pregnancy success rate of frozen embryos is equal to the pregnancy success rate for fresh embryos. However, individual’s health factors may effect in every aspect.
As mentioned earlier, a pregnancy rate of 14 to 35% is expected depending on the woman’s age and the number and quality of the embryos transferred.
4. Where are the frozen embryos stored?
The frozen embryos are stored and kept frozen in cryostorage until the couple decides to either use, donate or discard them.
Cryostorage systems are designed for applications where extremely low-temperature storage of biological products like embryos, eggs, sperms, etc. They are also appropriate for industrial or other applications where liquid nitrogen temperatures and high capacity are needed.
5. How are embryos frozen?
After the fertilization, embryos can be frozen from Day 2 (four cell stage) to Day 5 (Blastocyst stage). They are placed in thin plastic straws, sealed at both ends, and labelled with an identification number.
They then go into a freezing machine, where the temperature rapidly drops to -150° Celsius, for a process called vitrification. The straws are then placed in goblets and put into tanks (cryostorage systems) filled with liquid nitrogen, which keeps the temperature at -196° Celsius.
6. What to do with any remaining frozen embryos?
Once the woman becomes successfully pregnant and she thinks her leftover embryos of no further personal use, she may decide to thaw them and let them preserve naturally in the cryostorage systems, donate them to scientific research or to someone who is unable to conceive.
Some game-changing techniques, known till now are-
1. Women’s ability to preserve their fertility and have children later in life is going to be the game changer for a new birth in future. Nowadays, almost 80-90% of the eggs survive and women have a 95%+ chances of having a baby if they think of freezing 40 or more eggs before they turn 35.
2. Another alternative option that is still being in research is that women can soon freeze ovarian tissue at a young age. This will be frozen and preserved in the labs and can be used as a stock for future ovary transplant back in the body several years later. Successfully a few babies have been born using this method and are sure to be advanced much better in the near future.
3. Do you know? Scientists have made the best artificial sperm yet, and they’re breeding mice with it.
Scientists have also used embryonic stem cells that were taken from an immature embryo from the mother’s womb to grow the most effective ‘test-tube’ sperm cells ever, demonstrating them to fertilize mouse eggs. And yeah!!! mouse means that can be done with humans too with a little better and advanced techniques.
The development of various methods of cryopreservation of frozen embryos has improved embryo transfer technique with praiseworthy advancements, no longer depending on the immediate readiness of suitable recipients. Pregnancy rates are just slightly less than those achieved with fresh embryos. But, then so it will see much development and advancement in the upcoming days.