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59-year old woman is the oldest mother of triplets

16 September 2008
Appeared in BioNews 475

A 59-year old woman has given birth to triplets in a Paris hospital after receiving fertility treatment abroad. The woman, believed to be of Asian origin, travelled to Vietnam to be treated by a private clinic willing to overlook her age; the usual upper age limit set for egg donation and IVF is 45 in Vietnam, and it is illegal in France to treat a woman no longer able to procreate naturally. The woman is thought to be the oldest known mother of triplets in the world.

A spokesman at the Cochin hospital where the two boys and a girl were delivered by Caesarean section said, 'everything went smoothly' and both mother and babies were said to be in good health; the babies weighed between 2.1kg and 2.4kg.

However, the case has provoked debate about women having children late in life, and the potential risks to mother and child posed by complications in pregnancy and birth. 'The complications are manageable until about 42-43 years old' said Professor Rene Frydman, the doctor who helped create France's first test-tube baby, 'but after that you're going into the danger zone...the heart just isn't made for it'.

Concerns about the potentially negative psychological effects of having an older mother were also voiced by French child psychiatrist Nicole Garrett-Gloanec. 'Having children at that age is dangerous in terms of child development' she said, also suggesting that the desire to procreate so late in life was 'a denial' of ageing and death. Dominique Ratia-Armangol, president of the National Association of Early Childhood Psychologists expressed her concerns that children born to older mothers could be confused about the roles of grandmother and mother. Similar claims were made in 1994 when Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori caused controversy by treating a post-menopausal 63-year old with hormones and donor eggs and sperm in order for her to conceive. Cases of couples travelling abroad to receive fertility treatment when they do not meet the requirements specified by their own country, or to obtain cheaper treatment, are becoming increasingly common.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
France: Woman, 59, is oldest mother of triplets
The Guardian |  9 September 2008
Triplets born to 59-year-old mother
The Daily Telegraph |  9 September 2008
Woman, 59, has triplets after egg donation
The Age |  10 September 2008
Woman, 59, has triplets in Paris hospital
Reuters |  8 September 2008
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