Among fertility centres, much discussion focuses on whether to withhold infertility treatment from special patient groups (lesbians, prospective single parent(s), prospective parent(s) of relatively advanced age, or with severe diseases) because it is assumed that this is in the best interest of the child. The present study aimed to establish whether there is any empirical evidence for this assumption. A literature search was made in PubMed/Medline and PsycINFO to identify studies that had assessed psychological outcomes of children and quality of parenting after infertility treatment. Eight studies met the following inclusion criteria: published in an English-language peer-reviewed journal between 1978 and 2002, and focused on psychosocial child development and quality of parenting after infertility treatment in the above-mentioned special patient groups. All reviewed studies focused on lesbian or single-parent families. Overall, the methodological quality of studies as assessed by a standardized set of criteria was high. The evidence of the studies (assessed by the best evidence synthesis method) was strong for the conclusion that in lesbian families the psychosocial development of children (median age 6.1 years) and the quality of parenting are not different from those in healthy heterosexual two-parent families after infertility treatment or natural conception. Therefore, withholding infertility treatment from lesbian families on the assumption that such intervention may not be in the interest of the prospective child seems unjustified. For the other special patient groups, no conclusions could be drawn, because of a lack of relevant studies.

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Human Reproduction Update
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hunfeld, J., Fauser, B., de Beaufort, I., & Passchier, J. (2002). Child development and quality of parenting in lesbian families: no psychosocial indications for a-priori withholding of infertility treatment. A systematic review. Human Reproduction Update. Retrieved from