World’s Oldest Mom – A 72-Year-Old Indian Woman Gives Birth to Twins

ABC News is reporting that a 72-year-old woman has given birth to twins, making her the world’s oldest mother. The children, a boy and a girl, were the result of IVF and were delivered by Caesarean section last week.

My Take?

The physician who did this should lose his or her license. Just because we can do something, never means we should (or that it is right).

As readers of this blog know, I believe that assisted reproductive procedures should be limited to women who are under 50 years of age.

Not only are pregnancies in women 50 and older dangerous to the woman, they are dangerous to the child.

And, we need to think no only of the desires of the woman, but the need of the child – indeed, the right of the child – to be raised, whenever possible, into adulthood by his or her natural mother and father.

A woman who chooses to bring children into the world after age 50, in my opinion, is thinking more of herself than her child.

 

2 thoughts on “World’s Oldest Mom – A 72-Year-Old Indian Woman Gives Birth to Twins

  • John

    Your stance reminds me of the old adage about doctors losing perspective about the difference between a doctor and a god. It does not reflect good science, nor a mature understanding of the purpose of law. In my opinion you are abusing your trusted position as medical personnel to project your personal religio-cultural bias on other people who do not share it.

    You cite two reasons for your stance. 1) children may not have a parent until full adulthood. 2) increased danger to the mother and child.

    Available science indicates that average life expectancy is now over 85 and continues to advance, and average life expectancy for late parents is *longer*.

    85-50=?

    To claim parental lifespan as reason to cut off medical support of pregnancy at age 50 implies children are not adult until, as an average, later than 35-40 years of age.

    Many people – myself included – lose parents at a far younger age than that, due to all sorts of causes. Shall we also outlaw driving and smoking and joining the armed forces, because these activities create orphans? There is a *far* more direct, documented causal link from orphanhood to these activities, than there is to late pregnancy.

    Reproducing past age 50 is more dangerous than doing so at a younger age, statistically. So is hang-gliding, and walking across the street, statistically. Shall we also outlaw these activities for everyone over 50? Or shall we leave healthy, sane citizens to choose their own risks? One-size-fits-all legislation is counterproductive and undemocratic, as is misusing a position of public trust to push a personal agenda.

    The topic of danger to the child is the hardest for me to contemplate. I don’t like the idea of a child exposed to danger either. However, regardless of our preferences, jurisprudence aimed at balancing all of society’s various interests has seen fit to allow parents an extremely broad leeway in exposing their children to various forms of danger until they are 18 – many of these dangers have been proven far more harmful than advanced pregnancy.

    Most American parents do things that I personally would characterize as child abuse. In truth, I personally don’t think anyone under the age of 25 should be allowed to reproduce, and I think I could construct an extremely compelling statistical case to back that position – probably far more compelling than the case you could produce for outlawing medically assisted birth after 50. However, my opinion does not –and should not- influence the law in this regard. Nor should yours. Our law allows for a relatively wide variety of people to pursue a relatively wide variety of ways of living, and that’s as it should be. Or shall we also outlaw children in any building which may contain loaded firearms, or fast food, or fundamentalist Mormons? There is at least as compelling reason for this as for outlawing medically assisted birth past age 50.

    Your citing of parental motivation, characterizing it (“A woman who chooses to bring children into the world after age 50, in my opinion, is thinking more of herself than her child.”) belies the fact that your position has more to do with religio-cultural bias than it has to do with science.

    In addition, you make a pretty hefty assumption about another person’s motivations, based on age alone. I believe I could make a strong case that *most* parents, when they conceive, are thinking of themselves more than they are thinking of their children. Theres no reason to be age-ist about it.

    Your under-50 rule is not a bad rule of thumb –at present- *as a recommendation*, but to take extreme positions – to speak of legally limiting reproductive choice and of doctors losing licences for supporting free choice is irresponsible and is not based on good science.

    If you wish to live in a theocratic police state, please do it elsewhere.

  • Hi John,

    Thanks for writing. I appreciate your comments and lucid arguments.

    However, the national data of which I’m aware lists the average life expectancy in America at 77 or 78 years old. Therefore the math is not 85-50, but 77 – 50; or in this case, 77 – 72.

    It’s one thing to unintentionally have a child loose a parent when the child is young. It’s entirely another to plan for it.

    Either way, when it comes to reproductive technology, I think it is perfectly reasonable and scientifically and socially defendable to limit this to women under age 50.

    BTW, I’m not alone in this thinking as most IVF clinics have some upper age limit after which they will not perform in vitro fertilization with the woman’s own eggs.

    The age limit is somewhere between 42 and 45 at most programs in the US. Most IVF clinics allow a woman to be a recipient of donor eggs through about age 50. (http://www.advancedfertility.com/age.htm).

    Fair enough. But 72?!?!

    Dr. Walt

Comments are closed.

Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.