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.



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

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
Read the full paper
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
Read the full paper
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
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 Assistant

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 Research Fellow in Demography


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.

Relevant study

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Social Research Institute

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL