Belinda Slaughter, who was 46 at the time of treatment, conceived after doctors transferred four embryos created using her eggs and her husband's sperm. One implanted successfully and Slaughter gave birth to a boy last September. The news was announced by the clinic involved, Fertility CARE in Orlando, Florida.
'Generally speaking, options for women with infertility in their mid-40s and beyond have been limited to IVF treatments involving donor eggs or adoption', said Fertility CARE founder, Dr Mark Trolice. 'But many women would prefer to conceive a biologically-related child'.
Slaughter said she wasn't aware of breaking any records and had just wanted to have a child. 'Dr Trolice said that because of my age, I had only a one percent chance of conceiving, but I still wanted to try', she said.
A woman in India is the current world's oldest mother, giving birth to a daughter at the age of 69 through IVF using donated eggs (reported in BioNews 645). The oldest woman on record to have conceived naturally is a 59-year-old British woman, Dawn Brooke, in 1997.
Dr Richard Paulson, from the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, told the Orlando Sentinel: 'What's remarkable about this case is not the age of the mother so much as the age of the egg, which was 46 years old.'
There have been other reports of older women conceiving with stored eggs, but this case has been reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility making it a first published in medical literature.
Infertility in women is linked to age as egg numbers decline and are exposed to increasing chances of chromosomal abnormalities. The most significant decrease in fertility in women is seen from the mid-30s.
'In no way does a woman want to use this example to defer fertility until they are older', said Dr Trolice. 'After age 40, women still face huge hurdles. Their risk of complication gets higher every step of the way'.
Older mothers face increased risks of miscarriage and other health problems to both mother and baby. Slaughter's pregnancy was not without complications; her cervix required suturing to keep the baby in place and she was required to stay in hospital for ten weeks. The child was delivered by caesarean section at 31 and a half weeks.