Happy Birthday to All the IVF Babies

This week marks the 40th birthday of the first ever IVF baby. On July 25th 1978 Louise Joy Brown came screaming into the world and changed history forever by being the first live birth of a ‘test tube baby’.

Her conception was the result of an experimental procedure trialled by scientists Patrick Steptoe, Robert Edwards and Jean Purdy. The scientists kept in touch with Louise while she was growing up and were like Grandfather figures to her.

Millions of babies have now been born through IVF technology and other technologically advanced reproductive methods. While the first IVF baby was born in England, Australia wasn’t too far behind with the first Australian IVF baby was born just a couple of years later. From this first breakthrough pregnancy and birth, quickly came the technology to control a woman’s fertility by using drugs that helped her ovulate.

Professor Carl Wood, a Melbourne-based scientist, and his team, soon pioneered a technique that allowed them to inject eggs with sperm as a way of overcoming male infertility. Egg donation followed and resulted in the first ever donor egg pregnancy, frozen embryos followed not long after.

Since then the technology has come on leaps and bounds with doctors being able to diagnose genetic disorders in embryos prior to transfer and implantation. The latest development is in “three-person-IVF” where a faulty nucleus of an egg cell can be replaced with a nucleus from a healthy third person’s egg, resulting in a healthy embryo. While this technology isn’t yet legal in Australia, cautious support by the senate has been given.

So while we wish Louise Joy Brown a happy 40th birthday this week, we also celebrate the births of 10 million babies who may never have been born, but thanks to IVF technology, made millions of families complete.

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