China Has Just Made History With a Human Embryo Frozen 18 Years Ago

An embryo conceived nearly two decades ago has been born to a woman in Jiangsu, China. This breaks the record set by a 33-year-old woman in June, who gave birth to a boy from an embryo frozen for 12 years.

The new record-holder is a baby girl, born to 45-year-old Huang at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital of Fudan University, Shanghaiist reported. The 3.3-kg baby is easily dubbed the “most frost-resistant” in the country. She developed from an embryo frozen for 18 years and safeguarded prior to implantation.

Huang’s delivery is made possible by embryo-freezing technology, a process by which embryos are stored in sub-zero temperatures to facilitate assisted reproduction. Here, the embryos are almost completely still, but they are not interrupted. Successful transplant of the embryo and optimal female reproductive system conditions are essential for pregnancy.

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For Huang, it took several attempts to finally have her baby girl. Due to blocked fallopian tubes, Huang is not able to conceive naturally, bringing her to seek treatment. In 1998, she underwent three assisted reproductive therapies – one fresh and two frozen transfers – but all were unsuccessful. Frustrated, Huang decided to stop treatment and focus at work.

However, Huang learned that one of her friends – treated in the similar hospital – got pregnant with twins last year. This encouraged her to try having a baby again.

As per Daily Mail, Huang restarted her treatment at the beginning of 2015. She was confirmed pregnant in November.

The Shanghai Bureau recommends freezing embryos for a maximum of five years, but the hospital maintains keeping them indefinitely unless parents decide to give them up in signature.

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In the past, embryos thawed are said to have a survival rate of 80 percent, while the average pregnancy success rate was 30 percent. Currently, thanks to the maturation of technology, there is about 99.5 percent rate for clinical pregnancies and 43.4 percent implantation success, The Paper cited.

In the United States, the first “test tube” baby was born in 1981. According to The New York Times, in vitro fertilization (IVF) has grown since then, accounting for over 1.5 percent of all births in the country.

America’s longest-frozen embryo successfully delivered took 20 years. It was a boy born to a then-42-year-old New Yorker, who started receiving IVF treatment 10 years prior to her delivery, Popular Science wrote.

According to Daily Mail, there has been an increase in IVF treatment in China following the lifting of its one-child policy at the beginning of this year. 

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