WOMEN who carry a baby on behalf of childless couples further strengthen the bond between the families they help create, pioneering new research has revealed.

Surrogacy has become an increasingly popular and widely accepted method of building a family, used by the likes of Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Elton John.

Now new research carried out by Cambridge University has shown when a woman becomes a surrogate mother for a couple most of the relationships flourish in the process, challenging some notions that the situation causes rifts and problems.

In-depth interviews were carried out with 34 surrogates, 36 children of surrogates and 11 partners of surrogates as a way to trace the different dynamics established through the process.

It found there was a largely positive picture painted of the relationships between the surrogate and her own family, and between these individuals and the families created through surrogacy.

Of the surrogates who had chosen to maintain contact with the surrogacy families, most would meet in person once or twice a year.

Dr Vasanti Jadva, from the university's Centre of Family Research, said: "Our research shows that in the majority of cases, relationships formed as a result of surrogacy are valued and enjoyed by surrogates and sustained over time."