I was delighted to attend Progress Educational Trust’s 2011 annual conference entitled “The best possible start in life: the robust and responsive embryo on Wednesday 23 November 2011. The conference featured a series of leading lectures looking at assisted conception and the ways in which the circumstances of the embryo’s early development influence not only the likelihood of successful pregnancy and birth, but also the subsequent development and health of the child and adult in later life.
The demand for IVF continues to grow despite the relatively low success rates associated with IVF treatment. The conference investigated the reasons for the relatively low success rates and addressed what needs to be done to improve these and create healthy embryos and babies. In addition to refining medical techniques associated with fertility treatment, discussion focused on the need for greater understanding and education about the risks associated with fertility treatment, multiple pregnancies and low birth weight babies. There were calls for further investment and research into the longer term health of those conceived through assisted reproductive techniques and a more collective approach to family building across the world.
It was also predicted that pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) will rapidly become a significant feature of fertility treatment in future, as screening costs become more affordable and increasing numbers of medical conditions can now be identified using this technique.