Over the last century, most industrialized countries have experienced a progressive increase in maternal age at first pregnancy and a reduction of fertility rate, with important social and economic consequences. Moreover in Italy a very restrictive law on assisted reproductive technologies was introduced in 2004, limiting its effectiveness and causing a strong public debate that unfortunately focused more on the political and ethical implications of the law than on the medical and technical aspects of assisted reproduction. The present study performed an epidemiological investigation among the students of Turin University in the year 2006/07 in order to assess three aspects: the factors affecting the decision to become parents, their level of consciousness about human reproduction and their level of knowledge about the legal rules that regulate assisted reproduction in Italy. The study also wanted to clarify how the sex (male or female) and the type of education (sciences or humanities) could affect their opinions and knowledge in this area. It was observed that young people consider parenthood an important part of their life, but knowledge about human fertility and legal rules regulating assisted reproduction is rather poor, regardless of sex and type of education. © 2010, Reproductive Healthcare Ltd. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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