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November 14, 1990

Frozen Pre-embryos

Author Affiliations

The University of Western Ontario London

The University of Western Ontario London

JAMA. 1990;264(18):2383. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450180038014

7b the Editor.—  The article "Frozen Pre-embryos"1 by the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association contains the following statement: "Because fertilized eggs are frozen before the embryonic stage of development, they are referred to as pre-embryos."The early stages of development, including the formation of the blastocyst and inner cell mass, are described in textbooks of embryology, and there is no reason for using a special word for the early embryo. The only terms needed are oocyte (before fertilization), embryo (the period of morphogenesis occupying the first 8 weeks) and fetus (the period dominated by growth, from the ninth week until delivery).2,3The ridiculous term pre-embryo was introduced in Britain in 1986, when practitioners of in vitro fertilization were campaigning for legislation to permit research with early human embryos.4 The intention was to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public, among whom