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Back in the Day: birth of the test tube baby

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Back in the Day: birth of the test tube baby


July 25, 1978. Louise Joy Brown, the world’s first baby conceived by In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), is born in Oldham, England. Louise (see picture, right) weighed 2.608 kg and was born to John and Lesley Brown, who had been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby for nine years as Lesley Brown’s fallopian tubes were blocked. IVF was the work of Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards (see picture, left). Edwards’ contribution earned him the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2010. Four years after Louise was born, the Browns had another daughter, Natalie, who was also conceived by IVF. By that time, there had been some 39 ‘test tube babies’. In 1999, Natalie became the first woman conceived by IVF to have a child by natural means. Louise also gave birth without the need for IVF treatment, to a son Cameron in 2006.

Also on July 25: A French court sentences exotic dancer Mata Hari to death for spying (1917); Italian leader Benito Mussolini is forced from office (1943); Air France Concorde flight 4590 crashes after take-off in Paris (2000).

Born on July 25: Claude Zidi (1934), Robert Zoellick (1953), Matt LeBlanc (1967).

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