How old is too old to conceive a child? A Victorian woman will give birth to her first child later this year at the age of 54. Most IVF clinics will not treat women over the age of 50 and in this case, doctors insisted the un-named woman use a donor egg for the procedure.
The woman told a reporter from the Herald Sun, “We figure if we can give the child 20 to 25 years of a loving home environment, a good education and a secure financial background, we’re doing better than a parent whose quality of life is poor.”
Leading fertility specialist, Professor Michael Chapman said, “If the woman is fit and healthy, the risks are less excessive. But the child is going to be a teenager when she (the mother) is in her 70s. That’s my major reason for agreeing with a limit.”
I agree with the good doctor. There has to be an age limit for IVF. Although I do support this woman’s choice to have a baby. Her decision to conceive at 54 has raised some legitimate concerns about the long term health and well-being of herself and her child.
There is no disputing the fact that Australians are living longer. But not all of us will experience perfect health until the day we die. Despite advances in medical science, most of us will experience at least one major health problem by the age of seventy-five. So even if this woman and her partner do live for another twenty-five years, the child may become unnecessarily burdened with the responsibility of looking after two aging parents who are in failing health.
The 54 year old woman may be in good health now. But I can’t imagine giving birth at her age, followed by months, possibly years of sleep depreviation, will have no significant impact on her health in the long term.
I recall a case where a woman aged in her late sixties gave birth to twins in Spain in late 2005. It was reported at the time the woman had lied about her age to IVF doctors in the United States, telling them she was 55 when she was actually 67 years old when she underwent the procedure. About eighteen months after the birth of the twins, the single mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. With no other surviving relatives, the twins will most certainly end up in the care of authorities after their mother passes away.
Let’s face it, having babies and raising children is hard enough at any age. So it always bewilders me when I hear cases like these. I feel exhausted just thinking about the possibility of raising a young child in my fifties and sixties.
Although I wouldn’t even consider conceiving a child at the age of 54. I do hope things go well for this woman and her child.