Advancements in science could lead to children having multiple parents instead of just two, a study claims.

In vitro gametogenesis (IVG) is a technique which could take DNA from more than two parents to create a baby. Tests on mice have been successful, leading some to believe it is only a matter of time before the method is used on humans.

Sonia Suter, a law professor at George Washington University said IVG could lead to a number of issues, including large groups of people linked by their shared offspring. It could also allow people to parent children alone without using donor eggs or sperm.

Professor Suter said: “IVG could facilitate multiplex parenting, where groups of more than two individuals – whether all male, all female, or a combination – procreate together, producing children who are the genetic progeny of them all. Procreation in this manner troubles many people because of its significant divergence from our understanding of reproduction as something that occurs between two people.”

Large numbers of parents could cause confusion

Writing in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, Prof Suter said having more parents could be positive for the child’s welfare but it could also lead to confusion and potential conflict over what role each person should play.

Children created naturally get 50% of their genes from their mother and 50% from their father and their genetic relationship can be easily established using a DNA test. But with IVG, a child could be created with four biological parents and would get 25% of its DNA from each person – this would give them the same genetic relationship as a baby conceived in conventional circumstances would have with its grandparents.

She said: “If 32 individuals engaged in multiplex parenting, in genetic and generational terms they would be like great-great-great-grandparents to the child. Thirty-two adults simply cannot all have the kind of intimate relationship that is central to social parenting.

“As the number of intended parents increases, the social connections inevitably thin and intimacy diminishes, making multiplex reproduction more like the creation of clans.”