Can A Child Have Three Parents? A New IVF Procedure Makes It Possible

Are you having trouble conceiving a baby naturally and considering in vitro fertilization (IVF)? It has helped make many many eager couples like you into happy parents. IVF traditionally involves taking the egg of one woman and mixing it with the sperm of one man in a petri dish to create an embryo that is implanted into the woman's uterus. The hope is that the embryo attaches to the uterus and grows into a healthy baby. Sometimes, it can take several tries at IVF before a successful pregnancy is achieved.

Now, specialists in the fertility area of gynecology have created a new IVF technique that offers hope of a successful pregnancy and a biological child to women who would not otherwise be able to have one. The procedure has recently been approved for use in the UK, and it is under consideration in the USA.

This type of IVF creates embryos using the genetic material of three people. The resulting baby or babies technically have three parents. This has made the procedure controversial. However, for hopeful would-be parents everywhere, it offers hope of finally bringing a baby home.

If you're considering IVF, here's what you need to know about the three person procedure. If it sounds right for you, a trip to the UK to get it may be the fertility plan you choose to pursue.

Three Person IVF Actually Produces Children Who Have Genes from Three Different People

It isn't just theoretical or metaphorical when gynecology experts say children born through this new procedure have three parents. They actually do, on a genetic level. This is far different from the metaphorical "three parents" that come from surrogacy or egg donation, where the child is only genetically related to two of the three people involved in the pregnancy.

Three person IVF produces children with two genetic mothers and one genetic father. The child inherits traits from all three parents, and can pass those traits down to their own children.

This Procedure Allows Women With Mitochondrial Disease to Successfully Reproduce

The main use of this technique is on women with mitochondrial disease who would not be able to produce a genetically related child through any other means. However, it could be used with any woman with reproductive difficulties, in theory. Fertility experts recognized that the desire for a biologically related child is a strong one, and three person IVF solves the issue for a certain segment of the population who need this kind of service.

How Three Person IVF Works

According to, three person IVF works this way:

  • A man and woman who want to have a baby get matched with an egg donor
  • Eggs are extracted from the woman who will raise the child as well as from the egg donor
  • The nucleus is extracted from the egg of the intended mother
  • The nucleus is removed from the egg of the donor and replaced with the nucleus from the intended mother's egg
  • The mitochondria in the egg donor's egg remain intact
  • The newly created egg, which has genetic material from both women, is fertilized with the sperm of the intended father, producing an embryo
  • The embryo is placed in the uterus of the intended mother, where it will hopefully attach itself and create a successful, full-term pregnancy


Because the resulting child will technically have two biological mothers, it raises questions regarding how much involvement the donor egg mother will have (or wants to have) in the child's life. This is something all three parents can work out together.

While the procedure is totally legal in the UK now, and has resulted in the birth of genuine three-parent babies, it is still under consideration in the United States. It seems likely that it will ultimately be approved for use here, too, since there is a great deal of interest among fertility specialists in the procedure.

If you are unable to have a biological child due to mitochondrial disease, talk to your fertility specialist about three person IVF. It may just be the solution you need to have a biological child at last.

If you have questions about IVF procedures or other concerns about pregnancy, contact a local clinic like Central Iowa OB/Gyn Specialists, PLC.