The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced on Tuesday its decision to allow the 'carefully controlled use of frozen eggs in fertility treatment'. The HFEA had previously allowed licensed clinics to freeze and store human eggs, but had not allowed them to be thawed and used in fertility treatments because of questions about the safety of the technique - fears that resulting babies would have chromosomal defects. Now, the HFEA has lifted the ban as 'the most recent expert evidence has shown that the procedure is sufficiently safe'.
Ruth Deech, chairman of the HFEA, has acknowledged that the authority has always been sympathetic to those who may be made infertile and wish to store frozen eggs, but the potential risks had to be checked before the process was authorised. She says the HFEA is pleased that they 'now have the evidence giving hope to those women who could otherwise have been made infertile'.
Dr Sharon Paynter, who was commissioned by the HFEA to report on the safety of the procedure, recommended that 'whilst this technology is not without risk, recent results are very encouraging. Any patient wishing to undertake this option should be fully informed of the risks involved and the chances of success.' Dr Paynter reported at least 28 live births abroad following egg cryopreservation and a number of healthy continuing pregnancies. At least 50 women in Britain have had their eggs frozen. This treatment is not as effective as freezing embryos for later use - a technique proved to be relatively successful, and in use since the 1980s. However, egg freezing will have uses in younger women or girls who face infertility because of medical treatment for cancer, for example, or for women who do not have a partner at the time of their treatment. Because of this, the HFEA has stated 'women should however be fully informed that this is a new technique with a low success rate. We shall be monitoring its development very closely'.
Sources and References
Ban lifted on use of frozen eggs to delay conception
Ban on thawing frozen human eggs to be lifted
Frozen egg baby ban is lifted