Happy Birthday to Louise Brown and IVF

Louise Brown, who was born in England on July 25, 1978, marked the initial success of in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is a standard medical procedure that has led to the birth of 8 million babies. In many countries worldwide, 3-6% of all children are now conceived via IVF.

However, the impact of IVF extends far beyond solutions to fertility problems. IVF has opened the gateway to a deeper understanding of human reproduction. By creating more embryos than are generally needed for transfer to the uterus, these “spare embryos” may be used, with consent, for scientific research. IVF also provides a detailed genetic analysis of cells removed from embryos to look for disease-linked genes. This method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), screens for around 400 serious diseases associated with single genes (such as cystic fibrosis), so that embryos carrying disease-related gene variants will not be implanted – eliminating the risk of passing on the condition for couples who know they are carriers of the gene.

Even as new approaches and advanced techniques emerge to try to increase the chances of successful pregnancies, IVF remains fragmented in terms of access and affordability.

Physicians have been advocating on behalf of their patients for expanded insurance payments for IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies, but this has yet to attract broad public sympathy. Many payers and insurers don’t cover IVF and because the procedure can cost anywhere from about $3000 to $12,000 and it is perceived as an elective healthcare procedure for the wealthy.

We want the next advancement in IVF to be access for all because everyone deserves access to affordable family building.

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