In a world first, a baby has been born from an automatically flash-frozen egg, heralding a new era in IVF technology.
The Italian tot, a boy, was born on 29 September – but his family have only just gone public because doctors wanted to make sure that he was developing normally following the landmark birth.
His mother had previously received IVF treatment in Barcelona, where doctors employed a new technique allowing them to automatically freeze her eggs in a hermetically sealed container.
Previously, embryologists had to freeze eggs manually, creating the risk that outside elements could contaminate them.
The first baby to be born using the new system enjoyed a natural birth at 37 weeks, weighing just 4lb. He is said to be in excellent health, ThinkSpain reported.
Almost two months later and both his mother and doctors are delighted with the progress he is making; he is a normal, happy, healthy boy.
Frozen eggs are stored at temperatures of -196C in liquid nitrogen, where time effectively stands still and they do not deteriorate.
This process, known as vitrification, is also used by cryogenic scientists that freeze brains and corpses in the hope that their owners can one day be brought back to life.
Vitrified matter becomes glass-like and does not age or alter in any way. It can then be reheated at any time in the future, returning to the state it was in when it was first frozen.
Until now, the egg had to be placed in a liquid nitrogen by a skilled doctor who would also have to move it between different solutions from time to time.
But the new method, known as the GAVI system, takes away the need for manual human input, thereby increasing the chances of the egg remaining uncontaminated and being good for fertilisation.
The firm behind the technology, Genea BIOMED, expects the technology to be used in hospitals around the world.