It is the first time that a woman has had a child after having her ovaries removed, its tissues frozen and then reimplanted. 

The 32-year-old Belgian woman gave birth to a healthy 3.72kg girl late on Thursday at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Brussels, the team said on Friday in an online article carried by the British journal The Lancet. 

The technique "should be offered to all young women diagnosed with cancer" so that they have the chance of bearing children, suggested the team, led by Jacques Donnez of the Catholic University of Louvain. 

Fertility period extended

Other possibilities seen by medical analysts are for extending a women's period of fertility far beyond the menopause. 

The 32-year-old Belgian woman
gave birth to a healthy 3.72kg

Ovarian slices could be stored, thawed and returned to her body years later, enabling her to become a mother in her forties or fifties or even beyond. 

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can gravely affect a patient's fertility because they damage the cells which produce sperm and eggs. 

In the case of men, sperm can be stored before treatment and used for in-vitro ("test-tube") fertilisation, enabling them to become fathers later. 

In the case of women, eggs can be harvested and stored after the ovaries are stimulated by powerful hormones, but these drugs are potentially dangerous for cancer patients. 

In addition, stored eggs are fragile and the success rate in fertilisation after thawing is poor.