This year, things also got off to a bad start, when the Sunday Times published details of a study linking mobile phone use to male infertility. ESHRE had deliberately not selected the presentation as one suitable for a press release, since the findings are preliminary, and the evidence weak. But this did not deter the Sunday Times journalist hungry for a fertility scare story, who threw in another preliminary study on Viagra use, just for good measure. All this happened before any of the other newspaper reporters, abiding by the embargoes set by ESHRE, even put pen to paper.
Some have called for the media to be banned from conferences on human reproduction (see article by Vivienne Parry in Recommends), but even this drastic measure would not have prevented the mobile phone fiasco: the story was triggered by the lead scientist himself, who has remained strangely elusive since.
It remains to be seen how other stories from the meeting will fare in the media this week, but stories on a new way to test embryos for genetic diseases, the impact of a high protein diet on conception, the experiences of couples opting for embryo donation, and a call for a relaxing of the German rules governing embryo testing are just some of the real stories coming out of the conference. You can read all about these and other stories from the ESHRE conference every day on the BioNews website.