An interesting report by H. Colpin, S. Soenen details a follow-up study of the parent–child relationship and the child’s psychosocial development after IVF.
The major aim of the study was to extend the research on psychosocial outcomes in IVF children and their parents, through the study of a group of families with IVF children aged 8–9 years, and thus older than most of the children studied to date.
When the children grow older, the question of disclosure (or non-disclosure) of the IVF status to the child becomes increasingly relevant.
The research question included four topics:
- A comparison of the child’s psychosocial development between IVF and naturally conceiving families. Based on the idea that autonomy promotion is at risk and on the findings of previous studies (Colpinet al., 1995; Levy-Shiff et al., 1998), the hypothesis was tested that IVF children present more problem behaviours than naturally conceived children.
- A comparison of the parent–child relationship between IVF and naturally conceiving families. Based on previous research (Colpinet al., 1995), the hypothesis was tested that IVF parents report more supportive and less autonomy-promoting behaviour towards their child, attach greater value to adjustment and less to autonomy, and report less parenting stress.
- An exploration of the IVF parents’ practices and attitudes towards informing the child about the nature of his/her conception.
- An exploration of the relationship between disclosure on the one hand, and the child’s psychosocial development on the other.
Parenting behaviour and parenting stress did not differ significantly between IVF and naturally conceiving mothers, nor did they between IVF and control fathers. No significant difference was found between IVF mothers and naturally conceiving mothers for the parenting goals adjustment, personal autonomy and achievement. A significant difference was found for religion: religion was more important for IVF mothers than for control mothers.