- 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:
- Taking out the eggs from the ovaries of female.
- Culture of eggs in vitro in an incubator for maturation.
- 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.