How safe is Medically Assisted Reproduction and how far should we go to produce children?

Precongress Course 4

SIG Ethics and Law SIG Safety and Quality in ART Special Interest Groups Ethics and Law and Safety and Quality in ART 

Course co-ordinators

Heidi Mertes (SIG Ethics and Law), Kelly Tilleman (SIG Safety and Quality in ART)


Course type

Course description
Medical assisted reproduction (MAR) involves the use of drugs and the artificial development of embryos. It has been speculated that these techniques may be associated with increased levels of long-term health problems in both patients and children. Potential health risks have been suspected ever since the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in the UK in 1978. As healthcare practicioner and embryologist working in MAR, on an everyday level it seems safe to use. But is it really? Aren't we sometimes executing procedures that are quite new, without reassuring followup data? This course will consider the ideal preclinical validation path of novel treatments and the long-term effect on children born as the result of established assisted reproduction as well as the health effects in patients undergoing MAR. Technical improvements in MAR pushes patients and practitionars to the limit: Carrier-screening techniques, PGT-A, mitochondrial transfer and we will debate how we might determine acceptable limits to new treatments.


Target audience

Physicians, scientists, nurses and midwives, social scientists and ethicists

Educational needs and expected outcomes

  • To learn about safety of assisted reproduction treatments
  • To learn about future developments in infertility treatments
  • To learn how to prevent risks in daily practice


At the conclusion of this course the participant should be able to:

  • Know the importance of safety procedures
  • How to asses the risk related with a certain procedure
  • o understand how to perform an infertility treatment considering the safety of mother and offspring
  • To be able to critically consider the long term effects of MAR


Monday 28 June 2021

Session 1
Kelly Tilleman, Belgium
Heidi Mertes, Belgium
09:00 - 09:30
Long-term safety aspects of established MAR treatments on offsprings and patients
Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, Sweden
09:30 - 09:45
09:45 - 10:15
Critical overview of the effectiveness of innovative ART treatments
Daniela Nogueira, France
10:15 - 10:30
10:30 - 11:00
Coffee break
Session 2
Theofano Bounartzi, Greece
Zdravka Veleva, Finland
What about safety of experimental ART treatments? A debate on the use of mitochondrial transfer and CRISPR cas in ART
11:00 - 11:30
Are mito-nuclear interactions likely to be problem for mitochondrial replacement therapy?
Ewa Bartnik, Poland
11:30 - 11:45
11:45 - 12:15
More skeptical of using experimental ART treatments
Carmen Heidi Howard, Sweden
12:15 - 12:30
12:30 - 13:30
Lunch break
Session 3
Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, Sweden
Margarida Silvestre, Portugal
13:30 - 14:00
To screen or not to screen: ethical questions when performing extended carrier screening
Guido Pennings, Belgium
14:00 - 14:15
14:15 - 14:45
The health of donor children and the reason for blocking sperm donors
Speaker invited, but not confirmed
14:45 - 15:00
15:00 - 15:30
Coffee break
Session 4
Nicola Williams, United Kingdom
Alessandra Alteri, Italy
15:30 - 16:00
The ideal and impossible preclinical validation of ART technologies: From animals to humans
Wybo J. Dondorp, The Netherlands
16:00 - 16:15
16:15 - 16:45
The non-identity argument: Is the fact that children would not have been born without ART a reason to be more lenient regarding safety concerns?
Heidi Mertes, Belgium
16:45 - 17:00