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Strengthen the Evidence for Maternal and Child Health Programs

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and Families

Professional Resource Brief

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) are used to help women become pregnant when they are unable to conceive through normal intercourse or to carry an infant to term. Techniques may include in vitro fertilization (IVF), sperm or egg donation, surrogacy, or other methods.

This list of resources focuses on psychological and social impacts of ART on children conceived via ART and on their families. The list also provides resources related to ethical and legal issues associated with ART. For the most part, resources on this list are available electronically at no charge.

Web Sites

American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) (U.S.)
This society's online materials include ART consumer-information booklets, news, ethics committee reports, practice guidelines, and other reference and educational material, including a publication titled Annotated Bibliography for Children and Parents of Assisted Reproduction (2012).

ART: Talking to Children About Assisted Reproductive Technology (U.S.)
This site was developed by the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media as an educational tool for parents who have used ART and their children. The site includes audio clips and written transcripts from parents and children and advice on how to talk to children and adolescents about ART, secrecy vs. openness, and potential pitfalls. Also included are an ART timeline, definitions, links to related organizations, and recommended reading.

Donor Conception Network (U.K.)
This network provides information and support to help parents openly discuss their children's origins, whether through donated sperm, eggs, or embryos. The site includes annotated lists of books and links to resources. Some materials can be downloaded free of charge. Booklets in the series "Telling and Talking" are available for purchase. Members can also join an online discussion forum.

Donor Conception Support Group (Australia)
Founded in 1993, this voluntary organization is made up of people who are considering or using donor sperm, eggs or embryos, those who already have children conceived on donor programs, adult donor offspring, and donors. The Website includes information sheets for potential gamete donors; information for gamete offspring; and updates on legislation in Australia related to ART.

Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) (U.S. and International)
DSR assists people conceived as a result of sperm, egg, or embryo donation who seek mutually desired contact with others with whom they share genetic ties. The Website provides links to clinics in the United States and several other countries and other tools to help users locate relatives. News, articles, and information on research studies are also posted on this site as well as personal stories.

Donor Unknown.
This 2010 Public Broadcasting Service documentary describes the efforts of adult children of a common sperm donor to find each other and the anonymous donor who was their father. The website describes the film and provides online access to it, lists resources for donor-conceived people and their families, and provides a talkback feature for viewer comments.

Family Equality Council (U.S.)
Formerly known as Family Pride, this national organization advocates for family equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer parents, guardians, and allies. Resources include publications, a directory of parent groups, and a blog.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (U.K.)
This organization is the United Kingdom’s independent regulator overseeing safe and appropriate practice in fertility treatment and embryo research. The Website provides online information (including fact sheets and leaflets) for consumers, donors and donor-conceived people and their families, clinic staff, and the media.

Infertility Network (U.K. and International, including U.S.)
This site provides links to documentaries, books for parents and children, and related information on donor conception and donor-conceived people in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, including the United States.

Path2Parenthood (U.S.)
Path2Parenthood (formerly American Fertility Association) is committed to help people create their families of choice, focusing on reproductive and sexual health, infertility prevention and treatment, and family-building options including adoption and third party solutions. Resources include fact sheets on talking with children about ovum and sperm donation that list resources for parents and for children.


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Find Journal Articles and Other Materials

A rapidly expanding body of journal literature has focused on the mental- and emotional-health aspects of ART. This information can be researched in PubMed, the online database of the National Library of Medicine.

For a selection of articles, see this automated search on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).

Online newsletters and journals

BioNews (U.K.)
This website, published by the Progress Educational Trust (PET), provides news and comment on genetics, assisted conception, embryo/stem cell research and related areas. A free email newsletter is available.

New York Times (U.S.)
This newspaper includes feature articles on the personal aspect of ART. Good search terms include “egg donor,” “sperm donor,” and “in vitro fertilization.”

Books and reports

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (U.S.). 2008. Effectiveness of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This report reviews the evidence on the short- and long-term safety and effectiveness of interventions used for ovulation induction, superovulation, and assisted reproductive technologies and examines outcomes for mothers and children.

Arons J. 2007. Future Choices: Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. This report provides a basic overview of ART and discusses three primary areas in which legislators and courts have spoken to some degree (health insurance coverage, embryo disposition, and parentage determinations), including the policy implications of their decisions.

Cahn NR. 2013. The New Kinship: Constructing Donor-Conceived Families. New York, NY: NYU Press. This book explores the relationships among donors, recipients, and donor-conceived offspring in new forms of families that exist outside the law. It shows how these new relationships complicate the social, cultural, and economic meanings of family, and where the law fits into all of this.

Clarke-Stewart A, Dunn J, eds. 2006. Families Count: Effects on Child and Adolescent Development. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. A chapter of this book titled “New Family Forms,” by Susan Bolombok (pp. 273-298) examines various issues concerning child development and parenting within new family forms such as single mothers, surrogate mothers, and lesbian-mother families.

Covington SN, Burns LH, eds. 2006. Infertility Counseling: A Comprehensive Handbook for Clinicians. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. This handbook explores medical counseling issues, third-party reproduction, alternative family building, post-infertility counseling issues, and ART’s impact on children.

Guichon J, Giroux M, Mitchell I. 2013. The Right to Know One's Origins: Assisted Human Reproduction and the Best Interests of Children. Brussels: ASP Academic & Scientific Publishers. This book looks at third-party reproduction from the perspective of the child created, focusing on issues of secrecy and anonymity. It looks at practices, codes of ethics and legislation in Canada and suggests improvements. One section reviews studies that have considered family functioning and psychosocial outcomes for donor-conceived children.

Kramer W, Cahn N. 2013. Finding Our Families: A First-of-its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families. New York, NY: Avery Trade. This book addresses issues of disclosing donor conception, searching for and connecting with genetic relatives, with the view that openness is essential to the self-esteem and healthy identity formation of the donor-conceived child and adult.. Kramer is the founder of the Donor Sibling Registry.

Mundy L. 2007. Everything Conceivable: How Assisted Reproduction Is Changing Men, Women, and the World. New York, NY, Knopf. This book  discusses the personal impacts on people using ART to conceive and the moral, ethical, and pragmatic decisions they make, as well as social consequences for family structure, schools, ideas of genetic relatedness, and the nation as a whole.

Richards M, Pennings G, Appleby JB. 2012. Reproductive Donation: Practice, Policy and Bioethics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. This book looks at numerous issues related to assisted conception, predominantly from an ethical point of view, using psychological research into the wellbeing of families and psychosocial development in donor conceived children as an evidence base.

World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund, and Key Centre for Women's Health in Society. 2009. Mental Health Aspects of Women's Reproductive Health: A Global Review of the Literature. Geneva: World Health Organization. This document contains a brief section on parenthood after infertility and assisted reproduction.

For more information on this topic, use the MCH Digital Library Advanced Search using the term Reproductive technologies.

Authors: Olivia K. Pickett, M.A., M.L.S.; Beth DeFrancis Sun, M.L.S., MCH Digital Library
May 2014

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.