Children with 3-way DNA are healthy
More than 15 years ago, 17 babies were born after an experimental infertility treatment that gave them DNA from three people: Mom, Dad and an egg donor.
Now researchers have checked up on how the babies are doing as teenagers. The preliminary verdict: The kids are all right.
With no sign of unusual health problems and excellent grades in school at ages 13 to 18, these children are “doing well,” said embryologist Jacques Cohen of the Institute for Reproductive Medicine & Science at Saint Barnabas in Livingston, New Jersey, where the treatment was done.
That includes Emma Foster, 17, of Red Bank, N.J. “I turned out normal,” Foster said in an interview Tuesday. A cheerleader since age 10, she is now looking at colleges and thinking of majoring in engineering.
The infertility procedure is no longer performed. But the study of the children is timely because just last month, the first baby was born from a different procedure that also mixed genetic material from three people.
That technique is aimed not at infertility but at preventing the child from inheriting harmful genes from the mother. Critics are concerned about its long-term safety.
So finding no problem so far from the infertility treatment is helpful and “a good message” for people considering the disease-prevention procedure, Cohen said. But he emphasized that his findings cannot be taken as proof that the newer procedure is safe and should be performed.
Cohen’s hospital performed the infertility treatment between 1996 and 2001 on 33 couples who failed to conceive after roughly five tries at in vitro fertilization.
Fourteen of the 33 patients became pregnant, and 13 ultimately gave birth to 18 babies, including two sets of twins and one of quadruplets. (One of the 18 babies was a twin from a standard egg donation; doctors also included data on that child in the follow-up study.)