Objectives: To describe the outcomes of surrogacy among Australian intended parents who engage in compensated surrogacy overseas.
Design, setting and participants: Members of two Australian parenting support forums who were considering surrogacy or were currently or previously in a surrogacy arrangement were invited to complete an anonymous online survey during July 2013.
Main outcome measures: Destination countries; source of eggs; number of surrogates and embryo transfers; proportions who experienced pregnancy loss after 12 weeks' gestation, multiple pregnancy, prematurity, and live birth by destination country; and intentions regarding disclosure to children about the way they were conceived.
Results: Of 1135 potential participants 259 (23%) completed the survey. Of these, 112 (43%) had undertaken at least one surrogacy attempt overseas. India and the United States were the two most common destination countries. Most respondents (95/112; 85%) had used donor eggs; half (57/112; 51%) had used more than one surrogate; and the mean number of embryo transfer procedures was 2.9. As a result of surrogacy, 85% (95/112) had at least one child; 55% (62/112) reported that their surrogate had a multiple pregnancy; 10% (11/112) reported that a pregnancy had ended in a late miscarriage or perinatal death; and 45% of births (35/78) were premature. Most respondents (80/112; 71%) were most comfortable with using an identity-release donor, and 87% (97/112) believed that this would also be in their child's best interests. Almost universally, parents were planning to disclose the use of a surrogate and/or a donor to their child.
Conclusions: Almost half of the intended parents via surrogacy who completed this survey had undertaken compensated surrogacy overseas; most of these used donor eggs, but few considered Australian donors. A high proportion of surrogates had multiple pregnancies and there was a high rate of premature birth. These adverse outcomes could be avoided if the surrogacy was undertaken in Australia. Removing some of the existing barriers to surrogacy in Australia may reduce the number of surrogacy arrangements carried out overseas.
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