updated 2/4/2004 3:15:10 PM ET 2004-02-04T20:15:10

An Israeli women gave birth to healthy twins from 12-year-old frozen embryos, and her doctor said no other successful pregnancies had resulted from embryos frozen for so long.

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The boy and girl were born nine months ago to a Jerusalem couple that had first used in vitro fertilization in 1990, when 12 embryos were deep frozen, said Dr. Ariel Revel of Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital.

“This is the longest time that frozen embryos have been used,” Revel said, noting that the previous longest recorded use of frozen embryos was seven years.

According to Revel, the birth of the twins shows that long-term freezing does not have any negative impact on the embryos.

“The nine-month old boy and girl are completely healthy,” he said.

The use of such old embryos is unique here because in most countries, the cryopreserved embryos are destroyed after a number of years. In Israel they are kept for as long as the parents wish.

Embryos are destroyed in other countries for practical reasons such as the intense maintenance needed and storage costs, Revel said.

Also, he said, “it is unusual for a couple to come back after such a long time.”

The couple originally used in vitro fertilization in late 1990. The woman gave birth to twins after the initial treatment, and another child was conceived naturally a few years later.

Two years ago they decided to have more children, and four of the remaining frozen embryos were used, resulting in the double pregnancy.

Revel disclosed the birth of the twins after details were published in the medical journal Human Reproduction.

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