For most people, the basics of starting a family are very much the same as they have always been — you find someone you like (ideally), have sex, and then nine months later you have a baby. But in many ways, modern-day pregnancy has also vastly changed. Incredible advances in assisted reproductive technologies enable thousands of couples who are unable to fall pregnant naturally to have children. And even for those who do conceive naturally, there are pre-conception health checks, vitamin supplements, and self-imposed bans on soft cheeses, alcohol and spa baths. Pregnancy has become a time of caution, as much as it is a time of excitement.
For Up Close, I recorded an interview with reproductive biologist Dr Mark Green, who studies the precisely choreographed process of embryo development during pregnancy. Garnering information from a range of different species, Mark looks at how hormonal, environmental and dietary factors can all have immediate and sometimes lasting effects on the health of an embryo. Mark is from the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne. Listen to the full interview, or read the transcript here.