World's first test-tube baby Louise Brown has a child of her own
Sunday 14 January 2007
Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby in the world, has given birth to a child of her own. The boy named Cameron was conceived naturally and without IVF.
He was born weighing 5lb 6oz at St Michael's Hospital in Bristol just before Christmas and Louise describes him as "tiny but perfect" in an interview with The Mail on Sunday.
In the interview, the 28-year-old, whose pioneering conception by in-vitro fertilisation made her famous around the world, also reveals that she thinks it is wrong for parents to use science to choose the sex of their children, and that she was teased at school because she was a "test tube" baby.
Louise's own birth, by Caesarean section in Oldham, Lancashire, caused a media sensation in July 1978. The fertility specialists Patrick Steptoe and Bob Edwards became the first to successfully carry out IVF by extracting an egg, impregnating it with sperm and planting the resulting embryo back into the mother.
As a baby, Louise knew nothing about it, of course, but she has since discovered that media attention makes her uncomfortable. "I don't feel any more special than anyone else," she told The Independent on Sunday three years ago.
Then, she was making her first public appearance as an adult, at Bourn Hall, near Cambridge, the fertility clinic founded by the men who gave her life. The event was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her birth.
"I just get on with my life normal," she said at the time, visibly shaking as she spoke because she was so nervous about being interviewed. "Mum and Dad didn't treat Natalie any different from me."
Natalie is her younger sister, who was the 40th IVF baby to be born. And Natalie became the first of them all to have a child of her own, giving birth to a girl called Casey in May 1999.
Louise was five when her parents told her how she had been conceived. " They had it all on video, so Mum and Dad showed that to me at home. It was just before I went to school."
Dr Steptoe died in 1988, but Dr Edwards has stayed close to the family and was guest of honour when, in 2004, Louise married Wesley Mullinder. She met her future husband when he was working as a doorman in a nightclub.
Despite lifelong media attention, Louise has always sought to stay private rather than make money from her fame. "I get phone calls from mates saying: 'There was a picture of you in the paper', and I say: 'Was there? OK'."
More than a million people are believed to have been conceived using IVF, and about 9,000 babies a year are born as a result of the procedure in this country. The success rate for women under 35 using their own eggs is approaching 30 per cent.
Asked if she would have the treatment too in order to conceive a baby, the answer Louise Brown gave the IoS in 2003 was an unhesitating: "Yes" . But in the end, to her great but very private joy, it appears not to have been necessary.
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