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Children from Surrogate Mothers May Have More Emotional Problems

Update Date: Jun 19, 2013 03:01 PM EDT

A new study reveals that children of surrogate mothers have more emotional difficulties than those carried by their biological mother.

Researchers found that children find it more difficult to deal with the fact that they grew in an unrelated woman's womb than with the concept that they were conceived using a donor egg and sperm and are not biologically related to their parents.

The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry involved 149 families.  Of all the families participating in the study, 30 had used a surrogate, 31 had used egg donation, 35 had use donor sperm and 53 had conceived naturally.

Researchers at the Center for Family Research at the University of Cambridge surveyed the mothers when their children were three, seven and ten to see how well adjusted the children were.

The study found that children conceived using donor eggs and sperm were equally as adjusted as those conceived naturally, according to  However, children carried by a surrogate mother struggled more.

Lead researcher Professor Susan Golombok told that "signs of adjustment problems could be behavior problems, such as aggressive or antisocial behavior, or emotional problems, such as anxiety or depression".

Researchers found that all the children seem to be doing well by age 10. However, Golombok added that adolescence is a potentially difficult time for children born through egg or sperm donation or surrogacy.

"We hope to revisit the children next year when they are 14 years-old, as issues to do with identity become important in adolescence. This is also a time when relationships with parents can become more difficult," she said.

Surrogacy has increased rapidly in the United States.

While the number of babies conceived in the U.S. using donated eggs increased by more than 30 percent between 2004 and 2011, the number of births involving surrogate mothers increased by 200 percent from 530 births in 2004 to 1,179 births in 2011, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

While it is not known how many babies born in the U.S. each year are conceived using donor sperm, experts estimate anywhere between 30,000 to 60,000 births comes from sperm donations, according to an article published in The New York Times.

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