The first test tube baby turns 30

The first test tube baby turns 30

Artificial insemination: first German test tube baby celebrates its 30th birthday

Even thirty years after the birth of the first test tube baby, artificial inseminations are still controversial. While the advocates describe in-vitro fertilization as a great opportunity if they do not wish to have children, critics see this as an ethically problematic intervention.

Around thirty years ago, the first artificial insemination using the in vitro fertilization method was carried out in the Erlangen women's clinic under the direction of Professor Siegfried Trotnow. On April 16, 1982, the first German test-tube baby was born. Little Oliver was born by Caesarean section and weighed 4150 grams when he was born. The successful conclusion of the artificial insemination was a sensation and had triggered an enormous media interest, but also a lot of criticism.

First test tube baby caused considerable media hype Yesterday, Germany's first test tube baby celebrated its thirtieth birthday. Oliver is living proof of the first artificial insemination carried out in Germany outside of the womb. The so-called in vitro fertilization was described as a medical breakthrough and an opportunity for unintentionally childless people. However, there was also a lot of criticism, especially from the Church. Here doctors would play God and intervene in natural human reproduction, so the accusation. The now deceased head of the responsible research team, Professor Siegfried Trotnow, not only saw considerable resistance in specialist circles, but artificial fertilization also sparked a controversial discussion among the general public. The media interest was correspondingly high after the birth of the first German test tube baby. Later Prof. Trotnow reported of a huge media hype during which "reporters had besieged the clinic for days". Numerous media representatives even tried to "bribe the staff" to get to the obstetrics station, the reproductive physician described the situation at the time. However, the media hype was quite predictable, since the birth of the first test-tube baby Louise Brown in England had already caused considerable controversy which caused ethical problems in artificial insemination.

Artificial insemination today in everyday medical practice Thirty years after the birth of the first German test tube baby, artificial insemination outside of the womb is a relatively common medical procedure in Germany, which still leads to discussions, but it has long since stopped the mind boiling as much as in the 1980s . Numerous unintentionally childless couples could be helped with an artificial insemination and the ethical concerns were eliminated in many areas. Today, artificial inseminations in various forms are, according to the Erlangen Women's Clinic, "a globally accepted and practiced form of therapy for childless couples", with around 10,000 children being born in Germany every year who were created with the help of reproductive medicine. Accordingly, the hustle and bustle surrounding the birth of the first test tube baby is no longer an issue for the current director of the women's clinic at the University Hospital Erlangen, Professor Matthias Beckmann. The various forms of artificial insemination have long been part of everyday medical practice at the Erlangen Women's Clinic.

Help with unfulfilled desire for children If the intimate and personal desire for children does not “come true, there are many questions and doubts or even fears may develop”, reports the University Center for Reproductive Medicine Franconia (UFF) on its website. The gynecological endocrinology and reproductive medicine of the Erlangen Women's Clinic therefore offers, together with the UFF, various examinations "that are necessary to clarify the unfulfilled desire to have children", such as semen examinations and cycle monitoring. Once the causes of the reproductive problems have been determined, various methods of increasing fertility can be used or those affected can choose to be fertilized directly. According to the reproductive physician, this is relatively straightforward in most cases and is nowhere near as much a subject as critically discussed as it was when the first test tube baby was born in Germany.

Little is known about the test-tube baby Oliver, except for the circumstances of his birth. The now 30-year-old lives in an Upper Franconian village with 3,000 inhabitants and has so far strictly avoided contact with the media. Everyone in the small community knows who is Germany's first test tube baby, but only a few have personal contact here. According to other residents, Oliver lives more in seclusion and takes little part in public life. (fp)

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Photo credit: Petra Dietz /

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Video: In Depth - Test Tube Babies (October 2020).