English Hindi



Prelims bits

Prelims Capsule

Human Development

Pregnancy in Old Age, What is In Vitro Fertilisation-Risks and legal shortcomings

Pregnancy in Old Age, What is In Vitro Fertilisation-Risks and legal shortcomings

Tag:GS-2|| Governance & Social Justice|| Human Development|| Population

What is the issue?

  • 74-year-old Andhra Pradesh woman has recently been identified as the world’s oldest woman to give birth to twins through in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
  • Although babies and mothers are healthy, the medical community has raised moral, clinical and ethical concerns over conception at such an advanced age.

 What are the recent notable IVF births?

  • Under IVF, the sperm of the male is fertilized with donor eggs and inserted in the uterus of the female (mother).
  • After 57 years of marriage and several failed attempts to conceive, Erramatti Mangayamma, 74, visited Ahalya Nursing Home in Andhra Pradesh in 2018.
  • She planned the in-vitro fertilization procedure with an IVF specialist at the hospital.
  • Twin babies have just been born through cesarean operation.
  • In 2016, 70-year old Dajinder Kaur delivered a boy to Haryana via IVF.
  • In 2016, Dajinder Kaur, 70, had delivered a boy through IVF in Haryana.
  • In 2010, a 66-year old woman delivered triplets at the same Haryana hospital.

Why is this Concern?

  • This pregnancy was condemned worldwide because things might have gone wrong and it sets a false precedent.
  • Some experts have called for punitive action, alleging that the Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) must de-register the Andhra Pradesh Centre.
  • ICMR is considering giving notice of indulgence in unethical practice to the hospital.

What is the concern?

  • Average life expectancy
    • An Indian woman’s and man’s average life expectancy is 70 and 69 respectively.
    • The medical community has therefore expressed concern about the prospects of children born to such an elderly couple(the very day after birth, the father of the twins, 80, suffered a stroke.)
    • The medical technology has reached a stage where even a 90-year-old can conceive of a child.
  • Risking Human life:
    • Nonetheless, there are problems in this that could endanger human life.
    • The womb of an older woman has to be prepared by injecting hormones for the fetus to grow for nine months.
  • Breastfeeding: A woman of older age cannot breastfeed.
  • Health issues: Old age pregnancy also faces many risks, including hypertension, diabetes, strokes, bleeding and heart problems.

 Current Practice

  • The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill, 2010
    • The bill introducesan upper age limit of 45 for women and 50 for men to be eligible to IVF; the bill is pending.
  • Since the ART Act has not yet been passed, it is impossible to bring legal action against clinics.
  • No law in practice: With no law in place, the assisted reproductive technology (ART) industry continues to operate in a grey zone.
  • ICMR’s Guidelines
    • A number of centers are now depending on ICMR’s 2017 recommendations proposing the same age limits.
    • Although the cumulative age of the couple may not exceed 110 years for adoption.
    • When life expectancy rises, doctors are in negotiations with the government to raise the IVF age limit for women to 50-52 years.
    • Some experts now self-regulate, others encourage senior citizens to drop the idea, and others refuse to treat them with IVF.

Worldwide scenario

  • Most lawmaking countries vary the maximum IVF cap from 40 to 50 years.
  • The upper limit for IVF in the United States is 50 and the upper limit for ovum donation is 45.
  • Regulations prohibit IVF in Australia after menopause (52 years).

 What necessitates old age pregnancy?

  • Globally, an estimated 15% of pairs are infertile.
  • The social pressure to have babies, the fear of living without help in old age, and the loss of a single child also, cause couples to go for advanced treatments even when they are older.
  • The 2010 Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Act also states that children are “old-age insurance” in the Indian social context.
  • Some doctors argue that childbirth is a personal decision and each individual has the right to make that choice after counseling.


  • It is a proven fact that women are most fertile between the ages of 15 and 30. Beyond this, there is an increased risk of producing eggs and embryos with chromosomal and other abnormalities. IVF at advanced ages comes with the risks of pregnancy loss, etc.
  • Pregnancy should occur when the couple is settled well to share the burden of raising the child.