It became compulsory last June in the Netherlands for all sperm donors to be identified. The Fertility Center at Leiden University Hospital has run a double-track system since 1994 allowing couples to choose either an anonymous or an identifiable donor whose details would be available to children when they are 16. This has enabled researchers led by Dr Anne Brewaeys of the university's medical center to compare the reasons for the different choices and provide some insight into the potential impact of the new legislation.
In the UK from April this year all children conceived via donors will be entitled to have identifying information when they are 18. In a study led by Dr Emma Lycett of the Family and Child Psychology Research Centre of London's City University, researchers compared the emotions and experiences of parents who favoured openness with their children with those who were not keen on disclosure.
The Netherlands Study
The Dutch study involved 105 couples seeking a sperm donor for their first child. Sixty-one percent were heterosexuals and 39% were lesbian couples. All received counselling before treatment (which did not include upfront advice about the choice of donor) and data were collected on reasons for their choice. Sixty-three per cent of heterosexual couples and all but one of the lesbian couples chose identifiable donors.
"Motives for choosing an identifiable donor were the same for heterosexual and lesbian couples," said Dr Brewaeys. "The majority
Contact: Margaret Willson
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology