First NeuroNet meeting on the prevention of Spina Bifida

In Brussels, on October 6, 2010, a scientific meeting, facilitated by IF, took place between top-level researchers on the prevention of Spina Bifida. This newly founded group of experts, called NeuroNet, is aiming to start a consortium which will pool all knowledge on the development of neural tube defects. The initiative was started by the Bo Hjelt Foundation through its board members Professor Régine Steegers-Theunissen,  Professor Andrew Copp and IF president Pierre Mertens. The meeting offered researchers an opportunity to learn from each other's studies and methods and to find ways to combine their efforts. It is clear that many genetic and environmental factors are involved in the development of neural tube defects and a lot more research is needed to find the true cause of Spina Bifida. This knowledge is key in the search for even more effective prevention measures, since not all cases seem to be folate related.
Scientists from different parts of Europe gathered in Brussels with members of the IF Board to discuss the future of further research into the development of Neural Tube Defects


European Conference on Preconception Care and Preconception Health

The first European Conference on Preconception Care and Preconception Health in Brussels has been a huge success. Speakers from various European countries and from the USA lectured on a diverse set of topics, which are all involved in preconception care and health. Prevention through Folic Acid supplementation and fortification, genetic research, psycho-social issues, lifestyle factors, environmental issues and monitoring were among the subjects that were discussed in very well-attended sessions. An audience of health care workers and scientists was invited to actively participate and to join the organisers in drawing up recommendations for the governments in Europe. The conference is meant as a starting point to make preconception care accessible and available for all. Photos of the conference can be seen here.
Health care workers and scientists from all over Europe and the USA attended the first European Conference on Preconception Care and Preconception Health


IF colours the debate on preconception care

IF invested its expertise and participated in the first European Conference on Preconception Care and Preconception Health in Brussels organised by Dr. Pierre Delvoye and the French Belgian community (ONE). Many participants were touched and impressed by IF president Pierre Mertens' speech "Why should we prevent who we love?". He reminded the participants that prevention should never involve a value judgement on those living with Spina Bifida. They are much more than their medical diagnosis. During the conference IF also underlined the importance of the involvement of organisations of people with disabilities and presented its draft position paper on prenatal counselling. IF Board Member Margo Whiteford led a remarkable workshop on genetic counselling and US public interest lawyer and IF volunteer James E. Wilkinson presented an important workshop on ethics, disability stereotypes and international human rights.
IF board member Margo Whiteford, president of the Scottish Spina Bifida Association, consultant geneticist and senior lecturer in Medical Genetics at the University of Glasgow


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