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Panorama
A history of IVF
Test tubes
The world's first 'test tube' baby was born just before midnight on 25 July 1978 at Oldham General Hospital.

Louise Brown made her historic entry into the world with "the biggest yell you ever heard from a baby", according to her mother.

Her birth, and with it the birth of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment also gave hope to millions of childless couples around the world.

The technique used in IVF involves removing or harvesting eggs from a woman's body, fertilising them in a laboratory.

Expertise

The woman is given hormone drugs to prepare her womb to receive the fertilised eggs that are then placed back inside the womb.

It was developed by Gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and his partner Robert Edwards, who spent several years perfecting the technique.

Edwards and Steptoe met in 1971 when they began sharing their ideas and expertise in fertility treatments.

They concentrated their efforts on maintaining a human egg and early embryo outside the body - or in vitro.

Their first success came in 1975 when a human embryo was replaced successfully in the body of its mother.

However, the pregnancy developed in her Fallopian tube - an ectopic pregnancy - and the tube was removed along with the embryo.

Controversial

However, success was not far away, and less then two years later the doctors implanted a fertilised egg into Lesley Brown.

The result was baby Louise, and the historic birth. She will celebrate her 25th birthday in July.

Now, 25 years after the Brown's, more than 30,000 babies have been born through IVF in the UK, with around 2,000 children being born every year.

However the process is and has always been controversial. With new techniques being developed in the past 10 years

Critics also say the process can falsely raise would-be parents' hopes as it only has a success rate of around 15%

They also point to the cost - it can cost up to 2,000 per cycle for a couple to go private.

Panorama: The baby business

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