A woman who went through the menopause at the age of 25 has given birth to a healthy baby boy in Tokyo through a cutting-edge fertility treatment called in vitro activation, or IVA.
The baby born last December was conceived from the woman’s own ovarian tissue, which had been removed, treated in the lab and then returned to her body.
Obstetrician Kazuhiro Kawamura said, “I performed the Caesarean section myself. I could not sleep the night before the operation but when I saw the healthy baby, my anxiety turned to delight.”
Diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency
The mother who was not identified was diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), a form of early menopause. POI, affects about one percent women which causes their ovaries to shut down prematurely and they have trouble producing eggs. Though, women afflicted with the problem can get pregnant using a donated egg or adopt, the child is genetically not their own.
Aaron Hsueh, the study’s senior author, who studies molecular and cellular biology at Stanford University explained, “The only choice they have is to have egg donation or adoption. We’re trying to figure a way that this patient can have their own mature eggs and then can have their own baby.”
Experimental procedure on 27 women
Researchers, from Stanford University in California and St Marianna University in Kawasaki, treated 27 with primary ovarian insufficiency in the experimental procedure.
Eggs mature in structures called follicles in the ovary. However, the follicles were either missing or failing to produce eggs in the study subjects. Medics looked for a way to stimulate the dormant follicles and coax them into maturing.
For the technique, the women’s ovaries were removed and cut into strips, treated with drugs to stimulate development of the follicles and were grafted under the surface of their fallopian tubes.
In five of the women treated with the new technique, eggs grew and matured to such an extent they could be used in IVF. In one case, IVF failed and two other women it is still under way. One woman is pregnant and another is the proud mom of a healthy baby boy.
Dr Valerie Baker, who heads Stanford’s IVF unit but was not involved in the study, said, “Many women are devastated by a diagnosis of primary ovarian insufficiency because much of our happiness and purpose in life comes from our family. This procedure does appear to be a real breakthrough but we are cautious not to give false hope because the treatment has not been done on large numbers of women yet.”
The treatment was described Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by researchers in Japan and at Stanford University.