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Poll: One in four think 40 is too old for IVF

10 February 2014

By Patricia Cassidy

Appeared in BioNews 741

A recent poll conducted ahead of a television documentary has shown that one-quarter of respondents believed women should stop trying to 'trying to bring babies into the world' past the age of 40.

Three quarters did not think women should receive IVF beyond 'natural childbearing years' and a quarter of respondents also believed that 43 should be the 'cut-off' for men.

Over 2,000 people in the UK were surveyed ahead of the release of a documentary about the former Shameless actress Tina Malone, who gave birth at 50 after receiving IVF treatment in Cyprus.

The results also showed that 31 percent of respondents think the current recommended age limit of 42 for IVF treatment on the NHS is too old and a further 26 percent supported lowering the age limit to 40 for IVF either on the NHS or for private treatment.

The main concerns given by those surveyed were the health of women during pregnancy and birth, and the impact of a death of the mother on the child.

Around half the respondents said women aged 50 cannot be a good parent for a child through to adulthood. When asked about men aged 50 and over being a parent, 43 percent said the same. Two-thirds said a child born to mothers aged 50-55 would be negatively effected by having an older mother. This rose to 73 percent of the over-50s surveyed.

Most respondents thought that the 'ideal' age for women to have their first baby was at 27 years old. Responding to the survey findings, Malone, who is now 51, said:  'People might consider me over the hill and too old to be a mum but physically, emotionally, mentally and financially I am much better off now, as a mum at 50, than I was as a mum at 17 when nobody criticised me for having a baby'.

'I have more stamina and energy than most 27-year-olds, and all the time to give to my baby. Of course there has to be a cut-off, but if you are fit and healthy and financially secure, then you should be allowed to have a child at 50', she added.

The survey methods and the wording of questions have not been reported.

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