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Swedish Egg, Sperm Donors Want to Parent Up to 10 Children

Update Date: May 28, 2014 02:34 PM EDT

Most Swedish egg and sperm donors believe it is acceptable to mother or father up to ten children to help childless couples.

However, female donors are significantly less likely to donate sex cells compared to male donors.

Researchers at the Linköping University studied 119 sperm donors and 181 egg donors from all the infertility clinics in Sweden. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires before their first donation and were monitored up to eight years later.

"The issue has moved up the agenda, because from 2015 we also have to treat single mothers. If demand increases, how will donors react? How many offspring do they think is acceptable? We need detailed rules for recruitment of new donors," Gunilla Sydsjö, adjunct professor of reproduction research at Linköping University, and head of the study now published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, said in a news release.

Sydsjö believes Swedish donors feel more responsible for children they bring into the world because they are not allowed to be anonymous. Researchers said that donors are mature, responsible people whose aim is to share and to help others.

Researchers noted that in Denmark, where donors are allowed to be anonymous, a donor with a rare hereditary disease had fathered between 40 and 75 offspring who inherited the same disease.

"We can't screen for every possible disease gene, which is another reason to limit the number of offspring from a single donor," said Prof Sydsjö.

The latest study analyzed participants' age, educational level, marital status and biological children.

The findings revealed that 33 percent of female donors were fine with mothering one to five offspring, and 33 percent of male donors felt that 6-10 offspring was a ideal, while 28 percent could father 11 or more offspring.

"I thought that men would be even more liberal. We also see that attitudes are more restrictive amongst those participants with children of their own," said Sydsjö.

The findings were published May 12 in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavia.

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