Have any babies been born using the new 3-Person IVF technique?
The world's first baby was born in 2016 using this new 3-Person IVF technique. The US medical team travelled to Mexico to carry out the medical procedure. The baby boy was born free of the genetic condition carried by his mother called Leigh Syndrome, which could have proven fatal. The family had already experienced four miscarriages and lost two children to this disorder.
A baby girl was born in Ukraine on 5 January 2017 also using this new 3-Person IVF technique. The couple had tried to conceive for 10 years, undergoing four unsuccessful IVF treatment cycles.
How many people are affected by mitochondrial diseases?
Mitochondrial disease affects 1 in 5,000–10,000 people. This new 3-Person IVF technique is believed to be able to help about 15% of people affected by mitochondrial disease. Some scientists are seeking permission to use this technique more widely in fertility treatments.
Why is the UK's approach to mitochondrial donation significant?
Mitochondrial donation techniques continue to spark controversy. Concerns have been raised about their safety, changing the human germline and implications for identity. In the past, there has been strong international census against human genetic modification. The UK's decision to pass regulations permitting mitochondrial donation in 2015, together with the HFEA's approval last month of this new 3-Person IV technique marks a turning point in the development and use of assisted reproductive technologies.
The value of specialist Fertility and Parenting Law Advice
Assisted conception and fertility treatment is a rapidly evolving area of law and practice. This is aptly demonstrated by recent developments in the use and regulation of mitochondrial donation in the UK and worldwide. This fast moving arena creates wide ranging and often complex legal, practical, financial and emotional implications for all involved. There are disparities internationally, which can leave parents, donors, surrogates and children in uncertain legal and practical situations.
Many people experience difficulties conceiving a much wanted child for a variety of reasons including: unexplained infertility, genetic disorders, cancer, successive miscarriages or inability to carry a pregnancy. In addition, modern family-building takes many forms including solo parents, heterosexual and same-sex couples together with families built through donor conception, surrogacy, co-parenting and adoption. This creates complex and wide ranging dynamics, financial, legal and medical issues and risks for those involved. It can have unintended outcomes which can leave parents without legal status for their child. It can confer unwanted legal status on others.
Improvements and developments in assisted reproductive techniques, together with the needs of modern families built through assisted conception, challenge existing legal frameworks. The HFEA requires fertility patients to give informed consent to treatment, encompassing both the legal and medical issues, implications and outcomes. It is also the consistent message of the English Family Court that all parties involved in assisted conception and modern family building should obtain specialist legal advice before establishing a pregnancy. This enables parties to understand the legal, practical, financial and emotional issues and proactively manage these to place family building on a secure footing.
This article was originally published on the Michelmores website and has been reproduced with kind permission.
Louisa Ghevaert is a specialist contributor to International Family Law Practice.