A 20-year-old newborn? Last May in the US, a baby boy was born to a 42-year-old woman after being adopted as a frozen embryo from the couple who created it 20 years earlier, according to a report published online September 30, 2010, by the journal Fertility and Sterility. One out of a batch of five embryos frozen in 1990, the couple who created the embryo had completed their own family through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and anonymously offered their remaining frozen embryos to other couples. The embryo was first made available for "adoption" 16 years ago and was finally matched to an infertile woman in 2009.
At least for now, the baby's birth is a record breaker. Previously, the oldest frozen embryo to result in a baby was a comparatively young 13 years old. Some experts estimate that there at least one million unused frozen embryos currently stored in the US.
Preserving embryos by freezing has become commonplace in fertility treatment to allow women to attempt multiple cycles without repeatedly creating new embryos, as an article on the birth in the UK newspaper, the Telegraph, points out. Freezing embryos is also a way for couples who wish to postpone pregnancy to do so without running the risk of certain age-related fertility problems—women are also able to freeze their (unfertilized) eggs and an emerging practice allows women to freeze ovarian tissue for future use.