Are Artificial Wombs And Lab-Grown Babies The Future Of Childbirth?
Science and Technology
On 8th December 2016
It has been almost 40 years since the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born. While this amazing breakthrough was highly controversial at the time, IVF is today commonplace. So how are conception and childbirth likely to change over the next 40 years and beyond?
Author Nicholas Raine-Fenning brings us news on the fertility front. Given a 40-year time separation from when the first IVF baby was born, we have come quite far in the arena of fertility and reproduction sciences. Nicholas projects how future patterns may take place in this field of scientific expanse.
Possibilities covered include the possibility of genetic manipulation of babies, as well as sex and pregnancy becoming less common. A big item of note is how women can now preserve their fertility eggs and have children later in life. Original statistics were quite small, however now women can successfully freeze 80-90% of their eggs and are identified by having a 97% chance of having a baby if they freeze 40 or more eggs before they turn 35.
Additional experiments in freezing ovarian tissues and replacing them in the body have been successful as well in recent years. With research in sperm creation from stem cells, possibilities of female eggs from the stem is also being looked into. With so many options on the table, Nicholas suggests that within 40 years, women will have many options for childbirth as compared to the rest of history.
The rapid pace of research in the areas of fertility and reproduction raises some mind-boggling questions about the future. Will we conceive and grow babies entirely in laboratories making sex and pregnancy a thing of the past? And will all future children be "genetically designed"?
One of the real game changers will be women's ability to preserve their fertility and have children later in life. The procedure of freezing eggs was once relatively unsuccessful. But these days 80-90% of the eggs survive and women have a 97% chance of having a baby if they freeze 40 or more eggs before they turn 35. Another option is for women to freeze ovarian tissue at a young age, which can be thawed and put back in the body several years later. This option is still being researched but babies have been born using this method, and it is only going to get better with time.
Scientists have also successfully created sperm from stem cells, and there is no reason why the same cannot be done for eggs. So in 40 years, women will most likely have several viable options to help them preserve their fertility. Hopefully, this will also be socially accepted and an affordable thing to do by then empowering women to have children when they are ready.