The so called test tube babies are produced by the technique of in vitro fertilization. (In vitro = outside the body, as against in vivo = within
the body). This technique is being increasingly used in couples who are not able to achieve fertilization in the normal way Gonadotropins are administered to the woman to stimulate growth of follicles in the ovary. Just before ovulation, the ovum is removed (using an aspirator) and is placed in a suitable medium. Spermatozoa are added to the medium. Fertilization and early development of the embryo takes place in this medium.
The process is carefully monitored. When the embryo is at the 8-celled stage, it is put inside the uterine endometrium. Successful implantation takes place in about 20 percent of such trials. The techniques are complex and need a team of well trained experienced personnel with high degree of skill. The success rate is only about 20% and 2 or 3 attempts may be necessary. It is also very expensive. The first success with this technique was achieved by Steptoeand Edwards of UK in 1978. However successful 'test tube babies' have been produced in many countries including India.
It is a newer method in which the fertilized ova are introduced into the fallopian tube from where they naturally pass to the uterus for implantation. This method is considered to have a higher success rate than IVF. An even newer technique is the introduction of a single sperm into the ovum by microinjection.
The population problem is assuming serious proportions in many developing countries. In India, the population which was about 400 million in 1960 is now 100 crores or 1000 million. Realizing the dangers inherent in population growth, the government of India has taken several measures to check population growth and have given family welfare programmes an im-portant place in the five year plans. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also stressed the importance of family planning in the Global Strategy for Health for All by 2000 AD.
The National Family Welfare programme is a comprehensive scheme which includes:
1. Maternal and Child Health Care (MCH)
2. Immunization of mothers, infants and children.
3. Nutritional supplement to pregnant women and to children.
4. Contraception with health education, to motivate couples to accept contraceptive methods and to adopt small family norms.
Contraception is the prevention of pregnancy resulting from coitus.