The 20-Year-Old Baby

Imagine giving birth to a 20-year-old.  Sure, it lets you avoid changing diapers and those trying teenage years, but imagine the labor pains!  My middle child was so big that she got stuck on the way out; my youngest was even bigger.  Luckily for the 42-year-old mother, however, the 20-year-old baby boy she gave birth to was apparently of normal size.  But how, you ask, could a woman give birth to a 20-year-old, baby-sized or otherwise?

Truth be told, it wasn’t so much the baby that was heading into its second decade but the embryo from which it grew.  It turns out the couple had been trying to conceive via in vitro fertilization using donated embryos for ten years and that the embryos were already ten years old when they got them.  So while the embryo might be pushing 20 — it was in cryostorage for 19 years, 7 months — the baby is, well, a baby.

Although this sets a new record — previously, the longest an embryo had been stored before resulting in a live birth was 13 years — what’s interesting is not so much the baby boy, despite what some people think of those born via IVF, but the hope that this provides for other potential parents.  While 20 years might be extreme for most couples, it’s nice to have a large margin of error when contemplating the long-term storage of one’s embryos — such as if one (or both) members of a couple are undergoing treatment for cancer.

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