Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The oldest new mothers in the world

In 2006, a 63-year-old child psychiatrist became the oldest woman in Britain to have a baby. Patricia Rashbrook of Lewes gave birth to her baby by caesarian section in the Sussex County Hospital (where, incidentally, I was having my appendix taken out at about the same time). The baby was a healthy boy and was named Jay Jay.

She has received a lot of critisism for having her baby at such a late age. Jay Jay was not her first child. She already had two grown up children from her first marriage, but this was her first child with 60 year-old husband John. They travelled to the former Soviet Union to receive in vitro fertility (IVF) treatment from Italian doctor Severino Antinori. Medical ethics in Britain prevent a woman over the age of 50 from receiving IVF treatment (although it is not illegal). During the treatment a donar egg from another woman was fertilised with her husband's sperm and implanted into her womb. She was of course post-menopausal and her body was not producing eggs.

She appears to be a devoted mother, and perhaps you could argue this is all that matters. In Britain, as in many developed countries, there is a huge problem of unwanted children growing up in unloving families (or without a family at all). Is it fair for Dr. Rashbrook to be singled out purely in terms of age? On the other hand you might think that her decision was a selfish one, and Jay Jay has therefore become a commodity to satisfy his parent's needs (or their desire for publicity?).

This subject was in the news again very recently (May 2009) when 66-year-old buisness woman Elizabeth Adeney, of Lidgate, Suffolk, announced in a British newspaper that she was eight months' pregnant after undergoing IVF treatment in Ukraine. As far as I know, before that, the world's oldest new mother was Spanish woman Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, who gave birth to twins also aged 66. She recieved fertility treatment after lying about her age. She died of cancer a few months after the birth of her children.

The following clip was taken from British TV news at the time of the announcement of her pregnacy and features interviews with experts on pregnancy and fertility treatment:

No comments: