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It's a Girl! World's First Three-Parent Baby Using New Technique Born in Ukraine

Jan 20, 2017 06:00 AM EST

This little girl just made history as the world's first three-parent baby conceived through a new and controversial type of in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique. Doctors helped deliver the infant to a previously infertile couple in Kiev, Ukraine last January 5, according to a report from BBC News.

The brand new method is dubbed a pronuclear transfer, which is slightly different from the technique used in the birth of the first "modern three-parent" child in Mexico last year.

The doctors in Kiev fertilized the mother's egg with her partner's sperm, then transferred the combined genes to a donor egg. This way, the baby gets the genes of the parents, plus a small amount of DNA from the donor.

The three-person IVF was conceptualized to help women with serious genetic disorders - specifically mitochondrial disease - conceive a baby without passing on their condition. However, the doctors in Kiev used the technique to help a couple who are infertile instead of one suffering from mitochondrial disease.

According to a report from CNN, this has led to some controversy among experts in the medical community. The gender of the baby is key to the debate, because girls can pass on the genetic modifications to her children. Boy babies with donor mitochondria cannot pass on their modifications because when the sperm combines with the egg, the male mitochondrion dies. Only the mitochondrion from the female's egg is left in the embryo.

"I do think it's highly significant that this is a girl because we know for sure that she will be passing on her mitochondrial DNA through her maternal line," adjunct assistant professor at the University of Alberta School of Public Health Lori P. Knowles told CNN.

Dr. Valery Zukin, the director of the Nadiya Clinic for Reproductive Medicine where the controversial three-person IVF was performed, explained that their procedure did not produce a suitable male embryo. Upon discussing the matter with both the couple and a medical review board, they decided to continue with the procedure. There are no laws or restrictions prohibiting the use of this technique in Ukraine.

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