New Website: "A Thin Blue Line: The History of the Pregnancy Test Kit"
An on-line exhibit marking the 25th anniversary of the commercial
introduction of the home pregnancy test is now available on the World Wide Web at our website below. The exhibit,sponsored by the Office of NIH History, includes a historical timeline of pregnancy testing, portrayals of the pregnancy test in popular culture, and scientific background on the research that led to the development of the test. Visitors to the on-line exhibit will have the opportunity to contribute to the site by anonymously relating their own experiences with the home pregnancy test.
The home pregnancy test works by identifying the presence of the
“pregnancy hormone,” human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), in urine.
Research that led to a sensitive, accurate test for hCG was done by
scientists in the Reproductive Research Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at NIH. The exhibit includes excerpts from interviews with the two principal scientists whose work led to the development of the test, Judith Vaitukaitis, M.D., and Glenn Braunstein, M.D.
The web site introduces visitors to the science of reproductive
endocrinology - the study of hormones involved in reproduction - and
explains the radioimmunoassay’s usefulness both for early pregnancy
detection and for monitoring tumors in certain types of cancer. Included in the on-line exhibit is a glossary of scientific terms.
NIH is working with the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University in Virginia to collect visitors’ experiences with the home pregnancy test. Personal narratives submitted will become part of the web site exhibit, and all responses will be permanently archived for future students and scholars. Visitors to the web site therefore have a unique opportunity to add their own voices to the history of the pregnancy test.
Office of NIH History
National Institutes of Health
Building 31/5B38 MSC 2092
Bethesda, MD 20892
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