Happy families: The children conceived by assisted reproduction

By 2012, more than five million children had been born worldwide as a result of Assisted Conception. Almost five thousand of these children were conceived following fertility treatment at Herts & Essex Fertility Centre.

Professor Susan Golombok, Director for Family Research in Cambridge, UK, published a review of family studies in the Focus on Reproduction Journal (January 2013). These looked at parenting in IVF/ ICSI families.

She writes that mothers of IVF infants in an Australian study were found to show greater concern about their baby and lower confidence as parents than a comparison group of natural conception parents. However, these differences did not interfere with the quality of mother-child relationship. In addition, few differences were identified between IVF and natural conception fathers (1).

Later, as children enter pre-school and early school years, the anxieties of IVF mothers seem to diminish. Indeed, the European Study of Assisted Reproduction Families conducted in the UK, Netherlands, Spain and Italy found IVF showing greater warmth towards their children.

Parenting in ICSI families has been found to be just as positive as in IVF families. A large scale study of ICSI, IVF and natural conception families in a 5-year-old child in Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Sweden and the UK found few differences between family types, with ICSI mothers reporting higher levels of commitment to parenting then the mothers of naturally conceived children.

Studies also confirm that concerns about potentially adverse outcomes for child parenting and development in families formed through the use of donor sperm, donor eggs or surrogacy are unfounded.

These research findings are consistent anecdotal evidence from our experience at Herts & Essex fertility Centre. Families visit us with children conceived following treatment here. They are well adjusted, affectionate families and it makes us very proud and privileged be have been involved in their treatment. It is such experiences that keep us going and trying harder, especially knowing that not all families are successful with every cycle of treatment.


1. Gibson et al. The mother-child relationship following IVF. J Child Psychology Psychiatry 2000;41:1727-1732
2. Prof. Golombok. Focus on reproduction Jan 2013

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