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Forty years since birth of world’s first IVF baby

Yesterday forty years ago, the first “test tube baby” was born in a United Kingdom hospital.

Louise Joy Brown was delivered via caesarean section under torchlight, to avoid tipping off the tides of media congregating outside to report on the birth of the world’s first IVF baby.

Forty years on, some 10 million people have IVF technology to thank for their existence.

“It was quite an incredible breakthrough,” says Professor Christopher Murphy from Sydney University.

“We had been doing similar things with animals. The basic biological research to make all this possible had been done quite a few years earlier. But 1978 was the year in which the availability of the technology and the possibility reached the headlines.”

With 1 in every 23 Australia children now a product of IVF, the country is in the midst of an IVF boom. The business has become a lucrative one, with the infertility industry now worth $4 billion annually.

“It’s now used not just as a mechanism to overcome traditional infertility. It’s used as a way to avoid the birth of babies with terrible diseases that are likely to end up in them either not being born at all, or being born with diseases they’ll die from very quickly.”

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