Do children conceived by PMA make adults happier than others?

The physical health and development of children and adolescents conceived by assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are the focus of a good small study package. By ART we mean any procedure that requires the in vitro manipulation of human eggs and sperm or embryos for reproductive purposes – those commonly referred to as “test tube babies” and considered by approximately 8 million people since the advent of biotechnology in 1978 are drawn worldwide, or approximately the population of Switzerland.

To summarize the key trends, these studies show that ART conception is associated with an increased risk of congenital abnormalities, prematurity, and low birth weight, which in turn increases the risk of neurodevelopmental delay. Nonetheless, observations on the physical health of children conceived with ART are generally good, with small black spots related to their cardiovascular and metabolic health.

On the other hand, much less was known about the quality of life of adults conceived with ART. A study as significant as it is reassuring has just filled that gap: Not only do test-tube babies who reach adulthood perform no worse than the others, but they may also benefit from a parental investment bonus generated through the use of assisted feeding reproductive techniques.

Quality of life bonus

This study, published in the prestigious Human Fertility journal, involves 193 people conceived by PMA compared to 86 others who were born naturally. All were followed from 18 to 28 years and from 22 to 35 years through standardized protocols and validated by the World Health Organization to measure their quality of life on four dimensions: physical, psychosocial, social relationships and environment. All participants were born in Australia in the state of Victoria.

In addition to the design mode, the research team, led by Karin Hammarberg from Monash University, examined several characteristics of the participants:

  • the age of the mother at birth
  • your sexual orientation (hetero/homo/bi/uncertain)
  • their family financial situation during their studies (very comfortable/comfortable/modest life/rather difficult/very difficult)
  • subjective assessment of weight (very overweight/rather overweight/roughly the right weight/rather underweight/very underweight)
  • their number of close friends (1-2/3-5/6 and more)
  • the frequency of their physical activity of “vigorous” intensity (never/a few times a year/monthly/2-3 times a month/weekly/2 or more times a week)
  • the quality of their relationship with their parents, rated from 0 to 10 (from 0, very bad, to 10, absolutely perfect).

It shows that having been conceived using an ART method can improve the quality of life in adulthood, regardless of known psychosocial factors. This advantage is expressed in particular in less psychological stress, a better relationship with parents, a better financial situation and the feeling of weighing up what is needed between the ages of 18 and 28.

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According to the researchers, it is possible that the use of assisted reproduction leads to greater parental investment and, in particular, the adoption of an “authoritarian” parenting style, characterized by both high expectations of children and greater presence and support. A form of family parenting that we also know to be associated with less risk-taking and better psychosocial adjustment to youth than other, more libertarian parenting styles.

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