60 year old woman gives birth to twins
Progress Educational Trust31 May 2007
The twins were conceived via IVF in a South African clinic. The couple, Frieda Birabaun, a psychologist and her husband Ken, a New York attorney, are said to be delighted with the new arrivals. They have three other children - two boys aged six and 33 and a girl aged 29. Their youngest son was also conceived via IVF and the couple is reported to have been partly motivated to have a fourth child to provide a sibling for their youngest son.
Stories of women over 60 giving birth following IVF pregnancies has generated debate in recent years around how old is too old to become a parent. The oldest woman in the world to give birth - also to twins - was 67 at the time of delivery, in Spain last December.
Frieda Birabaun is reported to view the issue of later motherhood in terms of women's rights. She has said that she wants women to feel empowered by the possibility of bearing children later in life, and wants women to realise that they have choices.
The possibility of conceiving so late in life, via IVF, raises ethical questions about how much choice women should have over when they have children. The risks associated with pregnancy are known to increase with age and the number of viable fetuses per pregnancy. Concerns have also been raised about the impact of having older parents on the welfare of the child. In developed countries, however, people are living longer and healthier lives and to prevent access to assisted reproduction on the basis of age alone could be perceived as unjust age discrimination.
In US there is no upper age limit on access to assisted reproduction, although the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), which represents 85 per cent of clinics in the US, recommends that IVF should be offered to women under 50, using donor eggs, and under 44, using their own eggs. In the UK, National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines specify that access to IVF on the National Health Service should be only be offered to women between the ages of 23 and 39.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.