Alana Saarinen, a 13-year-old girl, has three biological parents. Her parents used their own egg and sperm in an in vitro fertilization, but included the mitochondria of another woman.
Alana Saarinen, a 13-year-old girl, has three biological parents.
Her parents used their own egg and sperm in an in vitro fertilization, but included the mitochondria of another woman.
Mitochondria are tiny organelles found in cells. Most DNA material is concentrated in the cell’s nucleus, but the organelles carry some of information of their own.
When it comes to baby making, if the mother’s mitochondria are excessively mutated, big health problems could eventually afflict the child.
The practice of introducing somebody else’s mitochondria into the mix began in the late 1990s on the hunch that it would help in avoiding potential future problems.
It began with one doctor’s research and before long, other health professionals followed.
The results appeared successful, with 17 healthy babies born initially, and reportedly another 100 around the world as fertility clinics copied the technique.
However, the US Food and Drug Administration stepped in, and declared that until formal approval was given, the practice had to stop.
Efforts to legalize the practice are ongoing, and in the UK it’s on the threshold of acceptance.
Alana’s mother said that the girl has never been sick with anything more serious than the flu, so those looking for proof that it works need look no further than her own daughter.