At 11:47 p.m. on July 25, 1978, a baby girl was born by cesarean section at the Royal Oldham Hospital in England. This part of her arrival was much like many other babies’ births: 10 fingers and 10 toes, 5 pounds, 12 ounces of screaming, perfect newborn. Her parents named her Louise. But this isn’t the most interesting part about Louise’s origins. For that, you have to go back to November 12, 1977, also near midnight. That’s when Louise Joy Brown was conceived in a petri dish.
Louise was the first baby born as a result of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, a procedure that unites sperm and egg outside of the body. Her birth was heralded around the world, with headlines declaring that the first test-tube baby had been born. The announcement was met with excitement from some, fear and hostility from others. But one thing was certain: This was truly the beginning of a new era in... Read More
I am not the first person who has considered composing poetry to the placenta. One writer begins: “Oh Lady Placenta! What a life you lived in magenta.” Another almost coos to the “constant companion, womb pillow friend.” It might sound like odd... Read More
With the promise and pitfalls of umbilical cord blood samples in mind, how should parents decide whether to put their baby’s blood on ice, either for their own family’s future use or as a donation for the greater good? It’s a tricky calculation, one... Read More
Umbilical cords tie mother and baby together, if only for a brief spell. But the stuff inside these cords has the potential to be useful well after birth. Cells in umbilical cord blood are already being used to treat certain diseases, including... Read More
When you’re pregnant, especially for the first time, you have to make a lot of decisions. Will coffee remain a part of your life? Where are you going to give birth? What are you going to name the baby? What values will you teach him? Do you really... Read More
As I’ve been reporting a story about the opioid epidemic, I’ve sorted through a lot of tragic numbers that make the astronomical spike in deaths and injuries related to the drugs feel more real.The rise in the abuse of opioids — powerfully addictive... Read More
When you’re pregnant, you spend a lot of time on scales. Every doctor appointment begins with hopping (or waddling) up for a weigh-in. Health care workers then plot those numbers into a (usually) ascending curve as the weeks go by.A morbid curiosity... Read More