Professor Susan Golombok, director of the City University Family and Child Research Centre spoke at the ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) meeting last week about new data on children born following assisted reproduction techniques (ARTs). The data comes from the next stage in an ongoing European study of assisted reproduction families and looks at the emotional wellbeing of the children.
In 1996, an earlier stage of the study looked at the emotional progress of IVF children, those conceived using donated sperm (DI) and adopted children between the ages of four and eight compared to children of the same age conceived naturally. Over 100 families were in each group. Conclusions drawn from this study were that concerns about ART children's emotional wellbeing were unfounded.
This latest follow-up study revisited 400 of the same families - the children are now aged 11 or 12. The data is based on interviews and questionnaires with both parents and children. The researchers found that over 90 per cent of the couples were still together and no evidence of emotional problems was apparent. Professor Golombok said to the conference that 'in general, ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) families with an early adolescent child appear to be characterised by stable and satisfying marriages, psychologically healthy parents, a high level of warmth between parents and their children, accompanied by an appropriate level of discipline and control and well-adjusted children'.
Another finding was that there was no difference in 'warmth' given by DI fathers in comparison with IVF fathers. Professor Golombok said that 'this suggests that the absence of a genetic link between the father and the child does not interfere with the development of a positive relationship'. However, it was also found that only one in 10 DI children had been told about their origins.
Sources and References
Family ties stronger for test-tube children
World-first study allays fears over emotional health of assisted reproduction children