A private fertility clinic in the United States has launched an investigation into the health of 17 teenagers who were born as a result of a controversial IVF technique that produced the world’s first “three-parent” embryos more than 15 years ago, The Independent can reveal.
The technique – which the US government halted in 2002 – involved mixing the eggs of two women so that the resulting IVF babies inherited genetic material from three individuals in a similar process to that planned in Britain for women carrying maternally inherited mitochondrial disorders.
The findings of the follow-up will be keenly scrutinised by Britain’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which is charged with making sure that a similar technique called mitochondrial donation is safe.
“We do not know of any follow-up of children born as a result of cytoplasmic transfer but we would certainly want to know the results of such a follow-up,” said an HFEA spokesman.
The British government has said it intends to introduce legislation to allow donor eggs to be used as a way of ensuring that women with mitochondrial defects do not pass on the mutations to their children. However, like cytoplasmic transfer, it will result in IVF babies with genetic material from three people – the woman who donated the egg and the child’s two biological parents.