Four decades of IVF: how far we've come since the first baby back in 1978 1 year ago

Four decades of IVF: how far we've come since the first baby back in 1978

This year marks the 40th birthday of the world's first ever IVF baby, Louise Brown.

Of course, IVF has changed significantly since 1978. In those early days, women were admitted to clinics for long periods of time for treatment. That and the likes of egg donation, egg sharing, sperm sharing, catheters, and ICSI needles - things that we all take for granted these days - were unheard of.

Simon Fishel, who is a fertility expert based at Beacon CARE Fertility, described: "2018 marks a significant landmark with 40 years since the first live birth from IVF treatment. In my early career things were so different and treatment was a lot less streamlined than it is now.

"The developments in recent years have really helped to improve outcomes for patients."

Mr Fishel highlighted in particular the likes of ICSI - Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection - which involves the injection of a single sperm directly in to the cytoplasm of an egg using a glass needle; this has made a huge impact in the treatment of male factor infertility.

"Also the creation of CAREmaps is hugely significant as this treatment enables embryologists to select the embryo which provides the best chance of a baby," he added.

The highlights in fertility treatment over the past 40 years include: 

  • 1978 – Word’s first IVF baby
  • 1982 – First male factor patients treated
  • 1987 – World’s first twins born from frozen embryo and donated eggs
  • 1994 – Britain’s first triplets born after host surrogacy
  • 1997 – World’s first pre-cancer treatment recovery of testicular material from a pre-pubescent boy to preservice his fertility
  • 1999 – World’s first IVF baby for Cystic Fibrosis patient
  • 2007 – Europe’s first baby born following embryo screening using Comparative Genomic Hybridisation (CGH)
  • 2010 – World first screening for the AnnexinV M2 haploytpe mutation for miscarriage in IVF (C4M2)
  • 2011 – World first births following C4M2 screening during IVF
  • 2016 – World’s first publications on C4M2 screening during IVF