Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby, turns 40 on Wednesday, July 25. Infertility professionals from around the world will be celebrating this day and reminiscing about the advances that have been made in reproductive medicine during the last four decades since her milestone birth.

Recently an international committee on assisted technologies monitoring announced that eight million babies had been born world worldwide as the result of IVF and other advanced reproductive treatments. We are proud that HRC Fertility has been part of this trend, having played an essential role in helping create families in southern California and beyond with in vitro fertilization.

As we mark the occasion of Ms. Brown’s birth, there are several valuable lessons we can learn from her big day.

Embrace the positive

Louise Brown’s birth was both widely acclaimed and vigorously condemned when it occurred. The press, the Pope, politicians, and pundits all proclaimed this revolutionary procedure was not ready for prime time and that doctors took too many risks trying to play ‘god.’ However, numerous physicians and researchers had spent decades perfecting the science behind IVF and were confident it could result in the birth of healthy children despite its experimental nature.

Fast forward 40 years, and in the U.S., one-third of adults either have undergone fertility procedures or know someone who has. IVF is a widely accepted treatment for most forms of infertility. While 30 years ago the probability of success was between five and ten percent per cycle, it is now well over 30% per attempt, and most patients take home a baby if they pursue several cycles.

Exceptional fertility clinics with state-of-the-art laboratories and top-notch IVF specialists, like HRC Fertility, are achieving success rates well beyond that national average.

IVF children are the next generation of advocates

Last year Louise met Elizabeth Carr, the first IVF baby born in the United States. Both women gave birth to children without any medical assistance, and are fierce advocates for the expansion of reproductive medicine services, fertility financial benefits, and innovative research. They want prospective parents to be able to take advantage of the innovative technologies that made their lives possible.

Though these women are the most well known IVF children, there are eight million other examples too. Forty years of research has demonstrated that IVF individuals do not have more significant health problems or cognitive issues than their peers conceived naturally, which should be reassuring news to their parents. Of course, continuous research and follow up is necessary to assure this trend is confirmed and as technology changes.

IVF parents are fighters

John and Lesley Brown tried for years to have a baby before they learned about the groundbreaking work of Dr. Edward Steptoe and Dr. Robert Edwards. Their desire to conceive was as strong as the hopeful parents-to-be we encounter every day. Though our patients do not need to forge the same pioneering path as the Browns did, we consider them as brave and courageous in their quest to become mom and dad.

One is better than two

In many other aspects of life, most people would prefer more rather than less. But with IVF, single is better than double or triple, especially during embryo transfers. We are glad to report that single embryo transfer has become the standard, thus significantly reducing the incidence of multiple births and the subsequent medical problems they create.

Progress means always moving forward

Reproductive medicine is a field that is continually evolving towards being able to help more individuals have babies. Lesley Brown underwent a natural IVF cycle where she did not use any medications to stimulate her ovaries. Now it is routine to use gonadotropin-producing medications so the laboratory can create, grow, and analyze multiple embryos that we can use in both fresh and frozen transfers.

Louise Brown’s birth ushered in the beginning of the contemporary infertility field, which is a specialty dedicated to improving treatment options, increasing success rates, and helping more and different types of would-be parents.

While many people might dread the big 4-0, Louise Brown will be enjoying her special day with the millions of families and reproductive medicine professionals who have found inspiration and joy because of her extraordinary birth.

The entire HRC Fertility team wishes Louise a joyous birthday!