A few days ago, I posted a blog on the history and techniques of sperm banking. But what happens to the children born from this method? No studies currently examine the mental health of sperm banked offspring who were raised by their biological fathers. Instead, studies look at children who are products of both sperm banking and sperm donation. Only two reports follow these children into adulthood. And, of course, they contradict each other.
One study, in the journal Pediatrics, performed a longitudinal study on the psychological health of children born from sperm donation. The authors, Nanette Gartrell and Henny Bos, stated that these children exhibited better mental health than the general population through age 17. Interestingly, the lesbian mothers, who were older than parents in the comparison group, raised all the children in this study and achieved pregnancy intentionally. These two differences may explain why sperm donor children performed better on psychological tests than the general population.
A report released by the Institute for American Values arrives at the different conclusion that adults born from sperm donation are at risk for mental health issues. Such individuals still make up a minority of the children surveyed. When asked,” Have you ever been prescribed medication for depression or other mental health problems,” 31% of sperm donor-conceived adults and 28% of adults raised by biological parents said “Yes.” In fact, 20% of sperm donor offspring had donated their own gametes or served as a surrogate. This report was not published in a journal and should be read with caution because qualified experts did not review it.
These studies raise some interesting questions but it is important to highlight the lack of studies investigating psychological issues, if any, of sperm donor offspring reared by biological fathers. This population was low in the past. With the increase in preventative sperm banking prior to medical treatments, it is an important subject to be addressed in the future.