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“And here she is… THE LOVELY LOUISE”

Icon image | Photo (ed.): Shutterstock

… was the headline in the British “Daily Mail” many years ago, because in 1978 Louise Brown was born in Oldham (GB). She was the world’s first so-called “test-tube baby” – that is to say, the first human born as a result of in vitro fertilization (IVF). By her birth, the world celebrated a major milestone in assisted reproductive technology, while at the same time offering hope to countless couples.

Back then, the physiologist Robert Edwards and the gynecologist Patrick Steptoe performed the “artificial insemination”. This laid the foundation for today’s reproductive medicine. In 2010, Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the development of in vitro fertilization.

Meanwhile, most of the first “test-tube babies” are parents themselves – the same is true for Louise Brown who has written a book about her life.

Louise Brown was followed by another 8 million babies

Recent figures confirm that worldwide up to now more than 8 million babies were born through IVF since Louise Brown became the first in 1978. This is roughly equivalent to the current population of Austria.

According to experts, about 5% of all newborn babies in Europe were conceived via assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Taboo Subject IVF?

A society with its values and norms, its political and economic decision-makers and all the individuals who may have very different views – all of this naturally plays an important role in how a particular subject is perceived.

Rather than being a taboo subject, the desire to have children is a very intimate and personal subject matter loaded with emotions and hopes. If, however, this desire remains unfulfilled and the couple concerned decides to proceed with fertility treatment, they rarely talk about their decision in the open.

At the end of the day, it’s all about creating a broader public acceptance of ART by means of information, education and supportive measures. It is evident that society deals more openly with the subject in states where fertility treatment is covered by the national health-care system, as is the case in the Scandinavian countries, for example. In these countries, the proportion of ART births amounts to some 6-8%.

By dealing briefly with the history of ART and looking at the current situation, reproductive medicine revealed itself as being of major importance to society and in particular to the overjoyed parents whose dearest wish became true.

» The Official Website for Louise Brown, The World’s First Test-Tube baby

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