This year marks the 40th anniversary of the conception of the world’s first IVF baby.
When Louise Brown was conceived in vitro in the UK, it made headline news. But that was nothing compared to the media storm that hit when she was born nine moths later.
The technique of in vitro fertilization was pioneered by British scientist Robert Edwards and obstetrician Patrick Steptoe.
Since then, it’s estimated that around six million babies have been born around the world using IVF.
Over the past 40 years, IVF technology has improved and advanced to the point where last year, the world’s first three-person IVF baby was born.
Abrahim Hassan, whose mother received IVF treated by a US team in Mexico, was conceived from an egg containing DNA from his mother and father, and a small amount of mitochondrial DNA from a third person.
Doctors hoped the process might prevent Abrahim from inheriting defective mitochondria, rod-like batteries in cells, that could give him Leigh syndrome, a fatal nervous system disorder.
On the 40th anniversary, Louise Brown says she hopes families who undergo treatments such as these are not subject to the same harassment her family.
According to Brown, her family was inundated with hate mail after she was born.
In an interview with the Press Association, Brown said that 40 years later the hatred hasn’t entirely gone away, and that she is still occasionally subject to nasty comments online.
In the interview, Brown said said: “People put cruel and ill-informed comments on the internet just about whenever there is a story about me. But I just ignore it.”