Practitioner review: outcomes for parents and children following non-traditional conception: what do clinicians need to know?

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2003 Mar;44(3):303-15. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00123.


Background: The birth of the first 'test-tube' baby in 1978 has led to the creation of family types that would not otherwise have existed.

Methods: This paper examines research on the psychological outcomes for parents and children in assisted reproduction families with particular attention to the issues and concerns that have been raised by creating families in this way.

Results: Parents of children conceived by assisted reproduction appear to have good relationships with their children, even in families where one parent lacks a genetic link with the child. With respect to the children themselves, there is no evidence of cognitive impairment in singleton children born at full term as a result of assisted reproduction procedures, although the findings regarding the cognitive development of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) children are currently unclear. In relation to socioemotional development, assisted reproduction children appear to be functioning well.

Conclusions: Few studies have included children at adolescence or beyond, and little is known about the consequences of conception by assisted reproduction from the perspective of the individuals concerned. In addition, there are some types of assisted reproduction family, such as families created through a surrogacy arrangement or through embryo donation, about whom little is known at all. Although existing knowledge about the impact of assisted reproduction for parenting and child development does not give undue cause for concern, there remain a number of unanswered questions in relation to children born in this way.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome