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This Week in History

Listen to and learn about events that happened this week in history—including politics, war, crime, inventions, entertainment and fashion. An archive of events that have shaped history — for learners and teachers of English, with vocabulary, audio recordings and quick quizzes.

25 July 1978

World's First Test Tube-Baby Is Born

Louise Brown, the world's first "test tube baby", is born in Manchester, England.

In 1978, the world's first "test tube baby", Louise Brown, was born in Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England. After "in vitro fertilization" (IVF) treatment, Louise's mother had an embryo of her egg and her husband's sperm implanted in her womb after it had been fertilized in a laboratory. The technique was pioneered by gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and physiologist Robert Edwards. Since Louise's birth, over 1,000,000 babies worldwide have been born as a result of IVF treatment.

test tube baby (noun): a baby that is fertilized outside a woman's body
in vitro fertilization (noun): when female egg is fertilized by male sperm in a laboratory
embryo (noun): early stage of life after fertilization; stage before developing into a fetus
sperm (noun): the male reproductive cell
womb (verb): the place in a woman's body where a baby grows
fertilize (verb): provide sperm in order to create new life

Test your understanding:

After the embryo had been created by in vitro fertilization treatment, it was implanted into

  1. Louise
  2. Louise's mother
  3. an IVF test tube

Gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and physiologist Robert Edwards made history by

  1. giving birth to the world's first test tube baby
  2. fertilizing Louise's mother
  3. pioneering IVF treatment

During in vitro fertilization treatment, a woman's egg is fertilized in a laboratory by

  1. a man's sperm
  2. an IVF test tube
  3. a baby's embryo
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Contributor: Matt Errey