The first baby from a frozen embryo turns 40!

Cartherics’ CEO, Prof. Alan Trounson was recently interviewed by Barbara Barkhausen, a German speaking, Asia-Pacific Correspondent for a variety of German, Austrian and Swiss newspapers. Barbara’s article, translated below, was published in a number of European newspapers, highlighting that the first baby born from a frozen embryo is now 40 years old – a result of stem cell technology established by Professors Alan Trounson and Carl Wood in Melbourne back in 1984.

Medical breakthrough: The first baby from a frozen embryo is now 40 years old

By Barbara Barkhausen

On April 10, 40 years ago, the first birth of a baby from a frozen embryo was announced in Melbourne. Since then, the medical breakthrough has given millions of parents another chance to fulfil their desire to have children.

Its been 40 years since medical history was written in Melbourne. The first baby to come from a frozen embryo has been an adult for a long time. Zoe Leyland is a successful lawyer who still lives and works in her hometown. Leyland responds to an email within a very short time. Thank you for your email. Yes that was my birth,” she confirms an inquiry. So its clear: she was the allimportant first baby, the breakthrough that was to give millions of parents new hope for fulfilling their desire to have children. But the Australian doesnt want to say more about it, she is rather publicityshy. She has not made any personal contribution to the developments, she says modestly.

Newspapers around the world reported

In fact, the real heroes were two doctors from Melbourne. It is thanks to Alan Trounson and Carl Wood that Leyland was born on 28 March 1984 at the Queen Victoria Medical Centre in Melbourne a message that the Australian medical community would proudly announce to the media in April. It was more of a successful scientific moment than a historic occasion,” Trounson says today. As a scientist, I was thrilled that it worked so well.” The New York Times, for example, reported on April 11, 1984: A 5 1/2pound girl named Zoe is the worlds first baby to emerge from a frozen embryo, scientists announced today.” According to the Monash University doctor, the baby had been delivered by caesarean section two weeks earlier. The birth was initially kept secret to protect the familys privacy, it said.

One of eleven oocytes

Both are doing well, a healthy mother and a healthy child,” the US newspaper quoted John Leeton, a member of the in vitro fertilization team who made another important contribution to the birth of the baby. Zoes mother, a 33yearold New Zealander, and her father, a 38year-old Britishborn Australian, had to endure a certain procedure for this success. Thus, her mother received hormonal stimulation and produced eleven eggs. These were then fertilized with her husband‘s sperm in the laboratory and frozen in a new type of freezer for two months. Such an egg, in the socalled pronuclear stage, could then later be thawed and develop into an embryo that was implanted in the womans uterus, where it would develop normally.

The breakthrough was thus achieved: from now on, the procedure should enable doctors to store fertilized eggs. This gave women for whom pregnancy was not possible naturally an even better chance of having a child. Trounson himself calls it the beginning of a new era of human reproductive medicine and something they are very proud of to this day.

Multiple births can be ruled out

By the way, the first fresh testtube baby in the world was Louise Brown, who was born in England in 1978. In her case, the mother had a fresh egg implanted in the lab, while Zoe came from a fertilized egg that was frozen for a while before being implanted. Freezing allows doctors to prevent multiple births after storing embryos for later use and not having to work with all of them right away. However, the procedure can also help a patient restore hormonal balance by delaying implantation in the uterus until the drugs that induce the production of multiple eggs are eliminated from the body. A 2023 study found that more than ten million children worldwide have now been born thanks to such assisted reproductive technology (ART). Medical studies now show that children born from frozen embryos are often healthier than those born from fresh IVF embryos. For example, last years study concluded that there is a higher rate of preterm birth and low birth weight in children born after the transfer of fresh embryos than in children born after a transfer of frozen embryos. Compared to natural fertilization, however, the children born via ART perform slightly worse: Overall, a higher rate of birth defects has been proven in these children over the years, the study said. Studies on longterm health outcomes would also suggest an increased risk of changes in blood pressure and cardiovascular function.