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Pregnant Women Over 50 ‘Do Pretty Well’ Study Finds
The average age ofِ women becomingِ mothers hasِ risen inِ the United States, andِ in theِ lastِ 20 years, a fewِ women haveِ evenِ entered motherhood inِ their 60s.
By implanting embryos produced byِ in-vitro fertilization usingِ egg cells donated byِ younger women, women whoِ haveِ passed menopause canِ becomeِ pregnant andِ give birth.
A newِ study ofِ 101 women age 50 andِ older whoِ hadِ children usingِ donated eggs reveals thatِ pregnancy atِ this age carries aboutِ the sameِ risks asِ similarly induced pregnancies inِ younger women.
The study is published in the February issue of the American Journal of Perinatology.
Pregnancy at older ages
While Sauer saidِ the results ofِ the study wereِ surprising inِ terms ofِ howِ well older mothers did, heِ noted thatِ the women wereِ highly screened andِ highly motivated.
These areِ smart, educated, well-off people thatِ areِ doing this, heِ said, andِ pregnancy afterِ 50 isِ not common — theِ 101 cases inِ the study wereِ collected overِ a decade.
One 49-year-old woman inِ the study died whileِ pregnant (she wasِ included inِ the study becauseِ she wouldِ haveِ beenِ 50 atِ the delivery).
The uterus is a very different organ than the ovaries, Sauer said.
Under a microscope, Sauer said, theِ uterus changesِ very littleِ with age.
Given adequate hormones, anِ older woman’s uterus canِ sufficiently nourish a growing fetus.
Eggs, however, are a different story.
A 2009 study fromِ the Sackler School ofِ Medicine inِ Tel Aviv concluded thatِ age 43 seemsِ to beِ a cutoff point forِ IVF withِ a woman’s ownِ eggs, whichِ isِ viable withِ onlyِ 5 percent ofِ women atِ that age.
While individual cases haveِ beenِ reported ofِ natural pregnancy atِ older ages, theِ very fact ofِ their publication suggests howِ rare suchِ events are.
Sauer saidِ celebrities whoِ haveِ givenِ birth inِ their late 40s almost certainlyِ used donor eggs, thoughِ theyِ mayِ not beِ acknowledging it.
But how old is too old, and who decides?
Public attitudes towardsِ older women havingِ children haveِ changed sinceِ research onِ such cases wasِ firstِ published.
Richard Paulson, whoِ worked withِ Sauer inِ the 1990s onِ research atِ the University ofِ Southern California andِ is currentlyِ the director ofِ USC Fertility, saidِ heِ hasِ noticed a shift inِ acceptance.
I think society has become comfortable with [alternative] parent situations, Paulson said.
Sauer believes women shouldِ haveِ a choice asِ to whenِ theyِ haveِ children, butِ said heِ understands theِ concerns.
It wasِ inِ Sauer andِ Paulson’s research group atِ USC thatِ a 63-year-old woman becameِ pregnant inِ 1996.
We tend toِ require ID now, Paulson said, noting thatِ manyِ IVF clinics restrict whomِ theyِ give donated eggs to, withِ a cut-off age ofِ 50 orِ 55.