Children conceived by sperm or egg donation could be allowed to trace their biological parents if the donors agree to waive their anonymity, the Government suggested yesterday.
A consultation paper on the question, issued by the Department of Health, said one option would be for donors to indicate whether they were prepared to be identified at the outset.
Parents seeking fertility treatment could then decide whether to use egg or sperm from a donor who wished to remain anonymous or one who was happy to be named.
Nearly 18,000 babies have been born thanks to sperm, egg and embryo donation since the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) was set up in 1991.
But despite the growing number of children born by assisted conception, they have very limited rights to information on their origins.
When they turn 16, they can check with the HFEA whether they are related to someone they want to marry and at 18, they can ask if they were born because of donated egg or sperm. Some basic information about the donor may have been given to the parents by the fertility clinic, such as eye colour, occupation, height or race.
Surveys have shown that 75 per cent of such parents decide not to tell their offspring anything about their conception.
The consultation document accepts there is pressure for donor children to be able to learn about their background.Reuse content