Medically assisted reproduction: the effects on children, adults and families


This project aims to advance our understanding of whether Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) affects the wellbeing of families, and if so why. Using the UK Millennium Cohort Study and Population Registers from Nordic Countries and the USA, we analyse MAR’s effects on a large range of adult/child outcomes through innovative research designs.

Research details

Project title

Medically assisted reproduction: the effects on children, adults and families

Project lead

Alice Goisis


Child development
Employment, income and wealth
Family and social networks
Health behaviour
Mental health and wellbeing
Physical health


February 2019 – January 2024


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 803958).
EU and ERC logos


Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) is one of the most important achievements of medical science in the last generation. In developed countries, the number of MAR treatments increases every year. Over the last four decades, more than five million MAR conceived children were born, and many more families received treatment. Given this trend, it is a public health priority to find out whether MAR affects the wellbeing of families. Prior findings are mixed and often hampered by low statistical power or conceptual limitations.

We will conduct a programme of cutting-edge research, the first of its kind to comprehensively analyse the effects of MAR on children, adults, and families. This investigation will be carried out through a combination of uniquely rich data (including the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), and Population Register Data from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Utah), previously unused research designs, and conceptual innovations.

First, in contrast to past work using small or convenience samples, we use extremely detailed and large datasets from population registers and surveys. Second, we compare the impact of MAR on different domains of life by analysing its effects on a range of adult and child outcomes (e.g., physical/mental health, education, union stability), thereby allowing us to investigate trade-offs that have not been previously tested. Third, we use innovative research designs to test whether the impact of MAR is causal by comparing children conceived through MAR treatments to their spontaneously conceived siblings, and adults who successfully conceive through MAR to those who are unsuccessful.

Call for papers

Call for papers: Submissions deadline 15 March 2024

Call for papers event poster (opens a PDF on the CLS website)

International Symposium on Medically Assisted Reproduction: Health, social and demographic aspects, 16-18 September 2024, Villa Vigoni, Italy.

The number of children conceived after Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) and of adults who undergo these treatments has been steadily increasing. Many questions remain regarding the wellbeing of MAR conceived children, barriers in access to MAR and the demographic and social consequences of increasing MAR use. This interdisciplinary event will bring together scholars for
presentations, discussions, and critical reflections around the topic.

Submission information

We invite proposals for presentations and posters on any health, social and demographic aspects of Medically Assisted Reproduction which affect children, adults and families, including matters around egg donation, surrogacy, egg freezing, access to MAR treatments, and more broadly around current fertility levels and intentions, reproductive health and rights, and childlessness in the European context and beyond. We welcome both empirical (qualitative or quantitative) and conceptual papers.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 400 words using the online form. The submission deadline is 15th of March 2024 and notification of acceptance will be sent out in April 2024. Please note we can only consider one submission per presenter (either oral or poster).

Confirmed keynote speakers:

• Prof. Lone Schmidt (University of Copenhagen)
• Dr. Diederik Boertien (Centre d´Estudis Demogràfics, Barcelona)
• Prof. Mikko Myrskylä (Max Planck for Demographic Research, Rostock)

The event will open with a welcome speech from the Rector of Bocconi University, Prof. Francesco

Travel and accommodation

The event will take place on 16-18 September 2024 at Villa Vigoni by Lake Como, Italy. The event is
free of charge and accommodation costs and meals will be covered by the event organisers. Attendees
will need to fund their own travel to and from the event. The nearest airport to Villa Vigoni is Milano
Malpensa or Milano Linate. Please see more details on how to reach the venue here. Please note that
there are no childcare facilities at the Villa.

Organising committee

  • Alice Goisis, University College London
  • Maria Palma, University College London
  • Alina Pelikh, University College London
  • Jenny Chanfreau, University of Sussex

For inquiries and issues with access to the submission form please contact us at:



Low birth weight among IVF children not linked to infertility treatments

7 January 2022 Differences in birth weight and pregnancy term between medically assisted reproduction and naturally conceived children become insignificant once family circumstances are considered, according to new research by the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies and the University of Utah.

Being born small doesn't tend to disadvantage IVF babies' cognitive development

10 March 2021 Children conceived through medically assisted reproduction who are born small do just as well in cognitive tests during childhood and adolescence as naturally conceived children who are born a normal weight, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

Featured scientific publications

Palma, M., Fitzsimons, E., Patalay, P. and Goisis, A (2023)
Medically Assisted Reproduction and Mental Health in adolescence: evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (in press)
Read the full paper
Koksal, S. and Goisis, A (2023)
Loneliness during the pregnancy-seeking process: Exploring the role of medically assisted reproduction
Journal of Health and Social Behavior (online first)
Read the full paper
Somigliana, E., Parazzini, F., Goisis, A., Esposito, G., Li Piani, L., Filippi, F. and Vigano, P (2023)
ART and the forgotten siblings: a call for research
Human Reproduction (online first)
Read the full paper
Pelikh A, Remes H, Metsä-Simola N, Goisis A (2022)
Partnership trajectories preceding medically assisted reproduction
Population Studies (in press)
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Goisis, A., Cederstrom, A. Martikainen, P (2023)
Birth outcomes following assisted reproductive technologies conception in same-sex lesbian couples vs natural conception and assisted reproductive technologies conception in heterosexual couples
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 329(13):1117-1119
Read the full paper
Goisis A, Palma M, Mesa-Simola N, Klemetti R, Martikainen P, Myrskylä M, Pelikh A, Tosi M, Remes H (2022)
Medically assisted reproduction and mental health: a 24-year longitudinal analysis using Finnish register data
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 228 (3): 311.e1-311.e24
Read the full paper
Remes H, Palma M, Peltonen R, Martikainen P and Goisis A (2022)
The well-being of adolescents conceived through medically assisted reproduction: a population-level and within-family analysis
European Journal of Population (in press)
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Magnus M.C, Havdahl A, Wilcox A.J and Goisis A (2022)
Parental subfecundity and neurodevelopmental delays and difficulties in offspring
International Journal of Epidemiology 51(5): 1511-1521
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Pelikh A, Smith KR, Myrskylä M, Goisis, A (2022)
Medically Assisted Reproduction Treatment Types and Birth Outcomes A Between-Family and Within-Family Analysis
Obstetrics & Gynecology
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Goisis, A and Palma, M (2021)
Medically assisted reproduction and parent-child relationships during adolescence: Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study
Human Reproduction 36(3): 702–711
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Tosi, M and Goisis, A (2021)
Mental health around the transition to first birth: Does Medically Assisted Reproduction matter?
Demography 58(4): 1347–1371
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Cozzani M, Aradhya S, Goisis A (2021)
The cognitive development from childhood to adolescence of low birthweight children born after medically assisted reproduction—a UK longitudinal cohort study
International Journal of Epidemiology
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Barbuscia A, Myrskylä M, and Goisis A. (2019)
The psychosocial health of children born after fertility treatments. Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study
SSM – Population Health, Volume 7
Read the full paper
Somigliana E, Busnelli, A, Vigano P, Vegetti, W, Goisis, A, Vercellini P. (2019)
Postponing pregnancy seeking and anticipating infertility treatments: an unwise combination
Reproductive Biomedicine Online
Read the full paper
Goisis A, Remes H, Martikainen P, Klemetti R, Myrskylä M. (2019)
Medically assisted reproduction and birth outcomes: a within-family analysis using Finnish Population Registers
The Lancet , Volume 393
Read the full paper
Goisis, A, Håberg, S, Hanevik, H, Magnus, M.C, Kravdal Ø (2020)
The demographics of assisted reproductive technology births in a Nordic country
Human Reproduction 35(6): 1441–1450
Read the full paper
Barbuscia A, Martikainen P, Remes H, Somigliana E, Myrskylä M, Klemetti R, Goisis A. (2020)
Maternal age and risk of low birth weight and premature birth in children conceived through medically assisted reproduction. Evidence from Finnish population registers
Human Reproduction, Volume 35
Read the full paper


Alice Goisis Associate Professor of Demography and Research Director at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Phone: 020 3108 9868

Alice is Associate Professor of Demography and Research Director at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies. She is a family demographer whose research interests span a number of substantive areas in social demography and epidemiology such as the consequence of childbearing postponement on child well-being and the social determinants of health. Alice is PI of an European Research Council Starting Grant to study the effects of Medically Assisted Reproduction on children, adults and parents. From 2019-2021 she was also the PI of an ESRC New Investigator Grant to study only children in the UK.

Maria Palma Research Fellow

Maria conducts quantitative analysis using the Millennium Cohort Study to research adults who undergo Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) to conceive, and children who are born after MAR.

Alina Pelikh Senior Research Fellow


Alina is a demographer working on the European Research Council Grant to study the effects of Medically Assisted Reproduction on children, adults and parents. Her research interests include life course, families and fertility, transition to adulthood, social inequalities, social policy, and residential mobility.

Alina previously worked for Understanding Society at the Institute for Economic and Social Research (ISER) at the University of Essex. Her projects included investigating mothers’ and fathers’ employment trajectories in the UK and exploring the impact of childcare prices on women’s labour market outcomes. In her PhD, Alina investigated how various life course trajectories of young people in the UK have changed across cohorts.

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Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL


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