Science

40 years after the first IVF baby, a look back at the birth of a new era

At 11:47 p.m. on July 25, 1978, a baby girl was born by cesarean section at the Royal Oldham Hospital in England. This part of her arrival was much like many other babies births: 10 fingers and 10 toes, 5 pounds, 12 ounces of screaming, perfect newborn. Her parents named her Louise. But this isnt the most interesting part about Louises origins. For that, you have to go back to November 12, 1977, also near midnight. Thats when Louise Joy Brown was conceived in a petri dish.

Louise was the first baby born as a result of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, a procedure that unites sperm and egg outside of the body. Her birth was heralded around the world, with headlines declaring that the first test-tube baby had been born. The announcement was met with excitement from some, fear and hostility from others. But one thing was certain: This was truly the beginning of a new era in how babies are created.

To celebrate Louises 40th birthday, I took at look at IVFs origins, its present form and its future. IVFs story starts around 1890, when scientist Walter Heape transferred a fertilized egg from an Angora rabbit into a different breed, and saw that Angora bunnies resulted.

Scientists soon began to work on other animals before turning eventually to humans. A fascinating account of the early days, written by IVF pioneer Simon Fishel in the July issue of Fertility and Sterility, recounts some of the more lively — and shocking — aspects of the nascent field. For example, IVF researcher Robert Edwards, who won a 2010 Nobel Prize for his work, used to carry eggs between labs in Oldham and Cambridge in a container strapped to his body. And some of the early experiments involved inseminating the eggs with the researchers own sperm. There was a steep learning curve that led to many failures: More than 300 women had oocytes, or egg cells, removed without success before Louise was conceived.

Bu then things turned around. On November 9, Lesley Brown began to ovulate (naturally, since the researchers hadnt had success using hormones to stimulate ovulation in many women). The next day, researchers saw that her left ovary contained a single follicle, the structure that holds an oocyte. Along with the surrounding fluid, that follicle was aspirated and carried by a nurse to another researcher and then finally to Edwards, who was waiting at a microscope. The egg was fertilized with sperm and allowed to mature into an 8-cell embryo. At midnight on the 12th, it was ready for the fateful transfer back to Lesley.

From there, the research took off, often with dicey funding and public outcry. Along with colleague Patrick Steptoe, Edwards and other pioneers opened the first private IVF clinic in 1980. Today, clinics exist worldwide. That brings us to more modern numbers. In 2016 in the United States, an estimated 76,930 babies were born via assisted reproductive technologies. The vast majority of those babies were born via IVF. Over the past decade, assisted reproductive technology birth rates have doubled over the past decade, the CDC estimates. Today, about 1.7 percent of all babies born in the United States each year are conceived via the technology. Worldwide, millions of babies have been born with IVF.

The method has been hugely successful in helping families who otherwise wouldnt be able to have children. And overall, the procedure has a good safety record. A study of Israeli teenagers born via IVF, for instance, didnt turn up any problems when the teens were compared with those conceived the old-fashioned way. The teenagers all had comparable mental health, physical health and brainpower, researchers reported in 2017 in Fertility and Sterility.

But that doesnt mean the technology will stay in its current form forever. Evolving biological capabilities might one day lead to better genetic screenings of embryos before they are implanted. And genetic tweaks might one day be possible, given the rapid rise of gene editing technology. Already, scientists have repaired a gene related to a heart defect in human embryos.

Other improvements might come too, such as making it easier on women to produce eggs for extraction. Less extreme hormone regimens might one day become more standard. With advances in stem cell technology, eggs may no longer be needed at all. Scientists may one day be able to coax skin cells into gametes. Scientists have already turned mouse skin cells into eggs and combined them with sperm to produce pups.

As I mull over the past and present of IVF, Im amazed at how much progress has been made, both in labs and in clinics, and I suspect that the most exciting advances are yet to come. I also think about all of these well-loved babies, born to families destined to treasure them for the masterpieces of biology that they are.

Related Articles

57 Comments

  1. I was very pleased to find this web-site.I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  2. The subsequent time I learn a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I imply, I know it was my choice to read, however I truly thought youd have something fascinating to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could possibly fix if you happen to werent too busy in search of attention.

  3. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I have been browsing online greater than 3 hours today, but I by no means found any interesting article like yours. It is lovely price sufficient for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the internet might be a lot more useful than ever before. “When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.” by Milan Kundera.

  5. Hello! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My weblog looks weird when browsing from my iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Cheers!

  6. I like the valuable info you provide for your articles. I will bookmark your blog and test again right here regularly. I’m relatively sure I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the following!

  7. Hi there very cool website!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally?KI’m glad to seek out numerous useful info here within the publish, we want develop more strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  8. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such wonderful information being shared freely out there.

  9. After study a number of of the blog posts on your web site now, and I really like your method of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site list and will be checking back soon. Pls take a look at my website as nicely and let me know what you think.

  10. I was more than happy to find this internet-site.I wished to thanks in your time for this glorious read!! I positively having fun with each little little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  11. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

  12. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the structure of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  13. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I’m quite sure I will learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  14. A person necessarily help to make severely articles
    I would state. This is the first time I frequented your website page
    and so far? I amazed with the research you made to
    create this actual put up extraordinary. Great activity!

  15. I haven’t checked in here for some time since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  16. My husband and i ended up being quite fortunate Emmanuel could do his investigations using the ideas he grabbed through your weblog. It is now and again perplexing just to always be giving freely tips and hints which often other people may have been trying to sell. And now we remember we’ve got the website owner to appreciate for that. The specific explanations you have made, the easy web site navigation, the relationships your site make it possible to foster – it’s mostly unbelievable, and it’s facilitating our son and us reckon that the topic is pleasurable, and that is unbelievably pressing. Thanks for everything!

  17. I¦ve been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this sort of space . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Reading this information So i am happy to show that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I so much for sure will make certain to do not overlook this site and give it a glance regularly.

  18. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was curious what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100 sure. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  19. Thanks for sharing superb informations. Your web site is so cool. I’m impressed by the details that you¦ve on this web site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched everywhere and simply couldn’t come across. What a great site.

  20. Hey very cool site!! Man .. Excellent .. Wonderful .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionallyKI am satisfied to search out a lot of helpful information here within the post, we’d like develop more strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  21. I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I’m not positive whether
    this put up is written through him as nobody else recognize such distinct about my problem.
    You’re incredible! Thank you!

  22. Greetings from California! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, amazing site!

  23. F*ckin¦ amazing things here. I am very satisfied to peer your article. Thanks so much and i am looking forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  24. Amazing blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused .. Any tips? Thank you!

  25. Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

  26. you’re really a just right webmaster. The web site loading speed is amazing.It seems that you are doing any unique trick. In addition, The contents are masterpiece.you have performed a fantastic task on this subject!Also visit my website – ozarkstalk.com

Leave a Reply to hire a hacker for free Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button