What is test tube baby?

  • Test tube baby is a technique concerned to a woman who is not able to conceive to give birth to a normal baby.
  • Test tube babies are not developed in a test tube as the name points out.
  • The term ‘test tube’ refers to ‘in-vitro’ or ‘in glass’ where fertilization of eggs by sperms is carried out.
  • This technology is called in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technology.
  • IVF technology was pioneered in humans by Prof. Robert Winston.
  • The same technique was used by Patric Steptoe and Robert Edwards (England) to produce world’s first test tube baby female baby, Louise Joy Brown, on July 25, 1978.
  • Since then, more than 25,000 babies have been produced so far.

IVF technology involves:

  1. Taking out the eggs from the ovaries of female.
  2. Culture of eggs in vitro in an incubator for maturation.
  3. Fertilization of eggs in test tubes by sperm (in semen) obtained from male.

  • The gametes take about 12-15 hours to fertilize.
  • After fertilization, the zygote is transferred into another fluid medium resembling body temperature.
  • When the embryo reaches the 32-celled stage, it is implanted into the uterus of another female which serves as host animal or surrogate mother.
  • These host animals or surrogate mothers are used only to serve as animal incubators and to deliver off springs after normal gestation (pregnancy) period.
  • This results in normal birth of a baby who is called a test tube baby.
  • The surrogate mothers don’t contribute anything in terms of genetic makeup since the egg is from the donor mother and semen is from the donor father.

Advantages of IVF technology:

  • It is one of the great achievements in medical science which is a boon to the childless couple.
  • Embryos can be used to screen for any inherited diseases.
  • Helps in diagnosis of certain fertilization problems.

Problems related to test tube baby (IVF technology):

  • The fact that the ovum doesn’t belong to the surrogate mother but she gives birth to the child.
  • It has raised many ethical issues and legal problems such as rights over the child.
  • The child born is considered illegitimate if sperm donation is believed to be immoral (in certain religions).
  • This technique is quite expensive.

What is test tube baby?