Artificial insemination, as stated in Comhaire and Mamoud (2003), has been associated with several dangerous side effects such as congenital abnormalities, impaired development and retinoblastoma in the child. Aside from these issues some couples experience emotional problems in dealing with the social stigma tied to non-coital insemination.
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In a study that analysed rates of birth defects between naturally conceived children and those conceived though artificial means, Hansen et al (2002) found that children conceived through the latter means were at much higher risk. For example, babies conceived through artificial insemination had an 8.6% chance of having a birth defect compared to 4.2% of naturally conceived babies.
Most likely defects
Of the seven types of defects that the researchers showcased in their study, only two reached significance as being more prevalent in artificial insemination births. These were cardiovascular, at 1.3%, and musculoskeletal, at 3.3%. In naturally conceived babies, these were at .6% and 1.1%, respectively. The researchers submitted that some of the likely causes of the higher rate of defects could be owed to the advanced age of infertile couples, the underlying cause of the infertility and the medications prescribed during the insemination process.
In another study that tested the possible defects associated with assisted conception, Wennerholm et al (2000) found that the majority of cases of abnormalities could not be directly correlated with the practice of artificial insemination alone. Instead, these cases were linked to those that are typically related to prematurity and multiple births, conceived through non-coital or coital means. It must be taken into account, however, that both prematurity and multiple births are more common in cases of assisted conception.
In an investigation that examined children conceived through in vitro fertilisation in terms of mental health postpartum, Stromberg et al (2002) observed that cases of cerebral palsy were more common in instances of low gestation age, multiple births and low birth weight as a result of assisted conception. For singleton births, there were no significant effects observed.
Another side effect of artificial insemination is of a psychological nature. Clinical psychoanalyst Annie Reed Henderson (2008) says the emotional stress that couples experience during assisted fertilisation procedures can result in serious consequences for the relationship. In cases of artificial insemination from a donor, only the female partner can claim a biological association with the child, leaving the male parent to learn how to psychologically cope with this reality. Henderson states that the majority of emotional trauma induced by the sometimes long and drawn-out fertilisation procedures could be assuaged by professional psychological counselling.
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- Henderson, Annie Reed. Therapy Today, Feb2008, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p29-30, 2p
- Comhaire, Frank H.; Mahmoud, Ahmed. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, Oct/Nov2003, Vol. 7 Issue 4, p385-391, 7p
- Stromberg, B; Dahlquist, G; Finnstrom, O; Koster, M; Stjernqvist, K; Ericson, A. Lancet, 2/9/2002, Vol. 359 Issue 9305, p461, 5p