-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Many people who used donor
eggs to become parents are grappling with the issue of whether they
should tell their children how they were conceived, according to a
Up to 60 percent of donor-egg recipients weren't sure if they
would inform their child how they came to be for fear of facing
cultural disapproval or being ostracized by their community,
And even parents who did plan to tell their children about their
genetic history often had trouble deciding exactly how and when to
have this conversation.
A second study followed up on parents who had their children via
egg donation at least 10 years ago, to find out if they'd actually
gone on to tell them and how it felt before and after the
The findings are scheduled for presentation Thursday at a
meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies and
the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), in
"Even though many parents through egg donation remain uncommitted to discussing it with their children, we see a trend toward greater openness which reflects our society's increasing comfort level with [fertility treatment] and increasing recognition that there are many different ways to create a family," Richard Reindollar, president-elect of the ASRM, said in a meeting news release.
"Counseling and resources need to be made available to parents who use egg donation, not just at the time of their [fertility treatment] cycle, but into the life of their family to assist them in the disclosure process," he added.
Experts generally advise that children conceived with a donor
egg be informed about their genetic heritage and medical history.
Still, the study authors, from Reproductive Medicine Associates of
New York and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, found that many
parents are hesitant to have this discussion.
The researchers asked 438 patients who received donated eggs
between 2008 and 2012 about their plans to reveal or withhold this
information to any children they had through the process.
Over the course of the study, the percentage of donor-egg
recipients willing to talk to their children about their origin
fluctuated significantly. In 2008, 42 percent of recipients said
they planned to inform their children. This dropped to just 21
percent by 2009, but later rebounded to 47 percent of parents in
Parents who planned to talk to their kids about their genetic
history said they did not want to keep secrets and wanted their
children to have important information about their medical
The study found that 40 percent to 60 percent of parents were
undecided about whether they would tell their kids about how they
were conceived. Aside from fear of disapproval from their
community, these parents did not want their child to be confused
about their identify or how they perceived themselves, the study
In a separate study, researchers from the Weill Cornell Medical
College, in New York City, asked parents who used egg donors
between 1992 and 2003 if they followed through on their decision to
talk to their child about how they were conceived. Of the 64
families involved in the study, 43 percent had told their children
about their genetic history.
These families had a combined 73 children between 2 years old
and 19 years old, all conceived with the help of a donor egg. On
average, the children learned about their conception at the age of
6. Parents who revealed this information by the time their child
was 10 years old reported being anxiety-free and happy with their
Of the 57 percent who had not yet spoken to their child about
their conception, 87 percent still planned to do so at some point.
Of these parents, however, 43 percent were not sure how to go about
having the discussion, which was causing the delay.
Parents who had not made the revelation by the time their child
became a teen felt a significant amount of anxiety about it.
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