A study of over a hundred 12-year old children born following assisted conception shows they have no more emotional or behavioural problems than children of the same age who were conceived naturally. But many children conceived using donor egg or sperm are not told of their genetic origins. This could be storing up problems for the future says Professor Susan Golombok, who presented her findings at a London conference last week.
Professor Golombok's study is the first to look at older children born using assisted conception, for whom issues of identity and parental conflict may become important. She found that parents who had experienced fertility problems were seen as 'more dependable but less sensitive' by their children, compared to other parents.
In the study, only two out of 45 children born following donor insemination, and just one of 21 egg donation children had been told about the circumstances of their conception. But in half of the families interviewed, someone else other than the parents knew that the child was not related to one of their parents. Professor Golombok found the main reasons given by parents for not telling their children were concern they would love the non-genetic parent less, and not knowing how or when to break the news.