Children born to mothers who made use of sperm donation to become pregnant do not suffer from not having a father, according to new research conducted by the University of Cambridge.

In a presentation at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual meeting in Maryland, Dr. Sophie Zadeh discussed findings that showed how both mothers who had depended on sperm donors to conceive and their children are not affected by emotional, psychological or even social issues more than those who belong to traditional families.

A growing number of single women are starting to turn to sperm banks in order to become pregnant.

This trend, however, is now being questioned by some sociologists, religious leaders and members of family charities on the basis that it purposely deprives children of a father. They believe that the move is immoral and potentially damaging to the psychology of a child in longer terms.

Zadeh and her team surveyed children, mothers and educators to determine how children conceived through sperm donation adjust to their environment compared to those born to traditional family units. The children featured in the study are between four years old to nine years old.

"There seems to be a stereotype of single women seeking sperm donation as anti-men or as not having carefully considered the needs of their future children," Zadeh said. "Our research would suggest that is not the case."

Zadeh explained that their study found no significant disparities between parented mothers and single mothers regarding the quality of their parenting.

She said they based their assessment according to the quality of interaction between the mother and the child, how much they enjoy their play together and how the mothers express warmth toward their children.

The researchers also studied conflicts between mother and child as well as how much the mothers disapprove of their children's actions.

Zadeh said they found no indication of any significant differences between mothers and their children.

Despite the findings, the researchers noted that the absence of a father was a frequent subject raised by children in their study.

Zadeh said that these children seem to be concerned about their lack of a father. She said this was observed even in two-year-old children who ask about the absence of a dad in their home.

The study also showed that the single mothers themselves expressed concern about their use of sperm banks to start a family. They were also worried about the absence of a father.

The researchers, however, concluded that the lack of a father in such families are not damaging to the single mothers and their children.

Photo: Michael Kordahi | Flickr 

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