Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Reassuring findings from first study on sperm donor identification


A study published in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction[1] today (Thursday 11 November), should help allay fears that removing anonymity from sperm donors might lead to problems for the children or for their biological fathers.

In the world’s first study to examine the feelings and experiences of adolescents who had been conceived through ’open-identity’ sperm donors, US researchers found that all but one of the 29 young people involved in the study had a neutral or positive response to their origins. More than 4 out of 5 said they were likely to ask for the donor’s identity and try to contact him, but few saw him as being an important person in their lives and not one reported wanting any money from him.

The top question the young people wanted answered was ’what’s he like?’ Of the 83% who wanted to know their donor’s identity and to contact him, the motive for the majority was curiosity about him and, for many, the chance to see if it would help them to learn more about themselves.

Lead researcher Dr Joanna Scheib of the University of California, Davis and The Sperm Bank of California, said: "While it appeared that the children were very curious and eager to learn more about their donor, they were also concerned about respecting his privacy and not intruding on his life. This finding indicates that the stereotypical concern of offspring showing up on the donor’s doorstep is inaccurate and does not reflect the intentions of the actual youths going through the identity-release process."

Dr Scheib said that the practice of open-identity sperm donation was still in its infancy and it would be appropriate to replicate the study with a bigger sample. The research team now plans a study focused on the experiences of young adults and donors who actually meet each other. "What this study has done is to indicate that when youth are told of their conception origins early and have the option to learn more about their donor when they reach adulthood, they express a normal, healthy curiosity about the donor that reflects an interest in learning more about themselves. They are not looking for a father in their donor. If anything, they want something like an ’older friend’ relationship."

The 29 young people taking part were aged 12 to 17 with an average age of 14.7 years, and two-thirds were boys. Just over 40% were the children of lesbian couples, 38% had single mothers and 21% had heterosexual-couple parents. They were conceived though open-identity donors in a programme run by The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC). Most had grown up knowing their history and the average age of learning about it was well under seven. By the age of 10, all had been told.

The study is important because little research is available about the experiences of donor insemination families who have open-identity donors and no research up to now has involved adolescents who are nearing the age when their biological father’s identity can be released to them.

The research was done through questionnaires and the adolescents answered the questionnaires independently of their parents, who were surveyed separately. In general, the young people’s reports concurred with the responses of the parents (i.e. the children’s reports of feeling comfortable with their origins and their feelings towards their parents matched what the parents reported).

Other findings included:

  • Almost all were comfortable sharing their origins with those close to them – extended family members, some friends and a few teachers;
  • In addition to interest in their donor, they expressed interest in contacting other children with the same donor;
  • Those from single mother households were most positive about their DI origins;
  • The presence of two parents, whether heterosexual or lesbian, seemed to dampen interest in the donors;
  • In response to questions about their vision of an ideal donor, the message that came through was that they hoped he was a good, open-minded person who would be open to contact and not necessarily be heavily involved in their life.
  • Although almost all planned to obtain their donor’s identity, they would not necessarily do so at 18 – the age that they would be entitled to have the information.

Said Dr Scheib: "A growing number of DI programmes offer the option, as in the US, of open-identity donors – that is donors who allow their identities to be given to adult offspring. In Sweden, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, the law actually requires open identity and the UK will also require it from April 2005, so it is important that research is undertaken to see what the effects are on the young people, their parents and the donors. Although this is a small study, its findings are reassuring in relation to the youths’ well-being and also reassuring for the donors."

[1] Adolescents with open-identity sperm donors: reports from 12–17 year olds. Human Reproduction. Doi:10.1093/humrep/deh581.

Margaret Willson | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

nachricht Breakthrough in Mapping Nicotine Addiction Could Help Researchers Improve Treatment
04.10.2016 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>