More and more children are conceived via assisted conception. But there is a lack of clear regulations in the healthcare system. LiU researchers have now shown that the chances of donor children who are genetically related having a child together are low – less than ten percent – if no more than ten children are conceived from the donor.
“Discussion of an appropriate limit to the number of children that should be conceived from one donor is needed, as there isn’t one at present. For those of us in the profession it is important that the process is safe for the new child, its parents, the donor and ultimately also for society,” says Gunilla Sydsjö.
Ms Sydsjö is a professor at Linköping University and a cognitive behavioural therapist at Linköping University Hospital. In her work, she meets people who need assistance from healthcare services in having a child. One of the questions that crops up in discussions with the parents-to-be is how great the risk is of their child having a baby with a half-sibling.
In a study published in the scientific journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, Professor Sydsjö, Marie Bladh and Anders Nordgaard use a mathematical model to show the chances of Swedish donor children who are genetically related having a child together. If ten children are conceived from one donor the chance is 0.9%, or roughly once a century. With the conception of 15 children the chance is 2%; with 25 children, the risk is 5%.
About 75 to 100 children are born each year in Swedish University Hospitals using donated sperm from Swedish men. The regulatory frameworks – or, rather, the lack of them – governing how many children can come from one donor differ greatly in the EU. In some countries up to 25 children can be conceived from one donor. The National Board of Health and Welfare recommendations of 2006 are that donor sperm is not to be used to conceive more than six children. When new EU rules were produced, the National Board of Health and Welfare recommendation of a maximum of six children was discarded and the people conducting assisted conception worked instead with the idea that the donor sperm should be used for conception in up to six families.
“These results show that the recommendations of the National Board of Health and Welfare of a maximum of six donor children should be followed by us in healthcare,” Professor Sydsjö says.
The optimal number of offspring per gamete donor. Sydsjö G, Kvist U, Bladh M, Nordgaard A, Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. May 25, 2015.DOI: 10.1111/aogs.12678