Sperm Donors Lose Anonymity to DNA Tests

Mothers increasingly able to track down kids' biological fathers

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 1, 2010 12:38 PM CST

(Newser) – The overwhelming majority of men who donate sperm choose to do so anonymously, but DNA testing is making that decision increasingly meaningless. These days it takes only a little bit of sleuthing for a mother to find her child’s biological father, Slate reports, telling the story of one mother who did just that, her curiosity driven by a desire to understand the genetic history behind her daughter’s health problems.

The tests are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can shed light on traits that could lead to genetic disease. But they also ruin the promise of anonymity that sperm banks rely on to lure donors. “Donors are choosing anonymity because they're not educated,” says the head of a group that helps children of the same donor meet up. “If they were properly educated on the consequences, then many would choose not to donate.”

An embryologist introduces sperm to an egg in a laboratory in this file photo.
An embryologist introduces sperm to an egg in a laboratory in this file photo.   (Shutterstock)
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