How old is too old? A contribution to the discussion on age limits for access to ART

Tomas Kucera, Charles University in Prague
Jirina Kocourková, Charles University in Prague
Boris Burcin, Charles University in Prague

ART legislation varies considerably across Europe in relation to age limits. While women’s age limit for treatment reimbursement from health insurance is essentially the same (usually between 38 to 42 years), the age limit for access to such treatment is rarely defined. There are three kinds of arguments used in all discussions of these age limits: biological and psychosocial arguments and the argument of the right to freedom of choice. The ART legislation takes into account the preferences of potential parents. Children’s preferences, however, are not ascertained. What age do children consider as the preferred age of their parents and what are their main reasons for this? What position do our findings have, and how significant are they compared to other arguments on age limitation for access to ART? Data from survey amongst 1452 older children and young adults aged 11-25 years conducted in the Czech Republic was used. Based on the survey results a substantial proportion of older children and young adults would prefer younger parents than they have. The most important reasons for this preference are those connected with the fear of premature loss of parents. Our respondents do not think of loss only as death, but also as a significant loss of physical and mental fitness resulting in the loss of a parent as a self-contained entity. The presented findings represent another strong argument in the debate on age limits for access to ART. Nevertheless, setting an age limit for ART should be part of a policy that promotes early parenthood in order to prevent further delay in fertility. Young people should be informed that the ideal age to start a family is before reaching the age of 30.

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Presented in Session 112: Assisted reproductive technology: challenges in low fertility settings