• Kyodo News


A woman born in 1984 through in vitro fertilization delivered a baby boy in 2003 after conceiving naturally in what is believed to be a first for Japan, a doctor said Sunday.

The boy’s birth and steady growth indicate that the assisted reproduction technology had no negative impact on the woman born through in vitro fertilization, said Masakuni Suzuki, a Tohoku University professor emeritus who assisted at the woman’s birth.

The woman, the third person born in Japan through in vitro fertilization, was 19 when she delivered the 2,726-gram boy in August 2003 at a clinic in the Tohoku region, said Suzuki, who now runs Suzuki Memorial Hospital in Miyagi Prefecture.

Japan’s first in vitro baby girl died of pneumonia at age 2, and the second woman born through in vitro fertilization has not given birth, according to the doctor.

The number of births from in vitro fertilization in Japan increased from some 12,000 in 1999 to around 18,000 in 2004 — about one-60th of the roughly 1.1 million newborns in 2004, bringing the total to 135,000, the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology said.

In Britain, Louise Brown, the world’s first in vitro fertilization baby, born in 1978, became pregnant naturally and gave birth to a baby boy last year. Her sister, Natalie, who was also conceived through in vitro fertilization, reportedly gave birth in 1999.

In a bid to study the safety of in vitro fertilization, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will this year begin its first survey tracing the growth of babies born via the process until they become 6 years old. The survey is scheduled to cover around 8,000 children.

Critics say the in vitro method — in which an egg is removed from a woman’s ovary, fertilized with sperm and then placed in the womb — may cause multiple pregnancies that could pose risks to the woman’s health or increase the likelihood of birth defects.

Through the survey of the children and their parents, the health ministry hopes to check the likelihood of birth defects, and the development of intelligence and mental state by age.

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