Issues in debate around setting an age limit for IVF
Context: A 74-year-old woman from Andhra Pradesh was recently recorded as the oldest in the world to give birth to twins through in-vitro fertilisation or IVF.
However, the medical community has expressed ethical and medical concerns over conception at such an advanced age.
Why this is a concern?
The average life expectancy of an Indian woman is 70 and of a man 69, and the medical community has expressed concerns over future of children born to such an elderly couple. There are complications that can risk human life.
Pregnancy in old age poses multiple risks — hypertension, diabetes, convulsions, bleeding, and cardiac complications to name a few.
The womb of an older woman has to be prepared by injecting hormones for the foetus to grow for nine months. Also, a woman of that age cannot breastfeed.
How is it regulated?
Globally, an estimated 15% of couples are infertile.
- The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, 2010, states that in the Indian social context, children are “old-age insurance”.
- The Bill proposes the upper age limit at 45 for women and 50 for men to undergo the IVF procedure.
- As of now, several centres rely on ICMR’s 2017 guidelines that recommend the same age limits.
- Even for adoption, the total age of the couple must not exceed 110 years.
- With increasing life expectancy, doctors are in talks with the government to increase the IVF age limit to 50-52 years for women.
- Until then, several experts self-regulate, some counsel senior citizens to drop the idea, and others refuse them IVF treatment.
Sources: the Hindu.