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Children should be told if donor gametes used

24 March 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 251

The ethics committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) says that parents who use fertility treatment with donor sperm or eggs should be 'encouraged' to tell their children how they were created. The ethics committee does not say that telling children should be compulsory, stating instead that parents should have the last word on whether they tell or not.

In a statement issued by the ASRM, the committee said that 'knowing the facts of their donor conception and, if available, characteristics of the donor, may serve children's best interests'. While it recognises that parents may wish to keep their infertility private, the ASRM points out a number of reasons that support the notion that information should be disclosed - including the right or need to know of one's biological roots, the benefits of open and honest communication in families and the value of having as complete a medical history as possible. It also suggests that telling children at a younger age is preferable, to minimise the risk of both accidental disclosure and trauma.

Dr Marian Damewood, president of the ASRM, observed that telling children about the means of their conception was often a 'delicate undertaking', but said it is something patients seeking to use donated gametes should think about. 'Ultimately, however, it is the parents' decision if and when to inform a child of the circumstances regarding his or her conception', she added.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Discuss fertility treatments with kids, experts say
Reuters |  19 March 2004
Ethics committee report: Informing offspring of their conception by gamete donation
Fertility and Sterility |  1 March 2004
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