A 65-year-old German woman is set to become the world's oldest mother of quadruplets.
Annegret Raunigk, a language teacher and mother of 13, went to a Ukrainian fertility clinic to undergo treatment using donated gametes because egg donation is illegal in Germany. It took over a year and a half to conceive and she is now in her 21st week of pregnancy, reports RTL.
In an interview with the German news broadcaster, Raunigk dismissed questions over whether her age would make caring for four infants difficult. 'I'm healthy now, why wouldn't I be in five years time?' she said.
Raunigk also said she was not concerned about being judged by others. Although she did not say in the interview exactly why she decided to have more children, RTL quoted her as explaining that it was because her youngest daughter wanted a new brother or sister.
Raunigk's oldest child is 44 and her youngest is nine years old – a birth that made headlines in Germany at the time. She also has seven grandchildren. Her children have five different fathers.
An interview with Raunigk was aired on German television last week. Speaking on the programme, her doctor, Kai Hertwig, explained that although she was healthy she would have to stay in the hospital until the birth as her age puts her at an increased risk of thrombosis.
Multiple pregnancies carry risks for all mothers, with babies more likely to be born early. There is also a higher chance of miscarriage and high blood pressure.
Talking to the Bild newspaper, Raunigk said that she had no reservations but was shocked when the doctors first told her that she was pregnant with quadruplets.
'Certainly that was a shock for me. After the doctor discovered there were four, I had to give it some thought to begin with,' she said, adding that she never considered reducing the number of embryos.
She also said that she had never planned on having so many children, and at first had only planned on having one, but had since found that they 'kept her young'.
The Mail Online reports that the current oldest woman to have given birth to quadruplets is Merryl Fudel from the USA, who was 55.
The world's oldest mother is reported to be Omkari Panwar, from India, who gave birth to twins at the age of 70 in 2008 after receiving fertility treatment (see BioNews 465).
In 2009, a woman who was once the world's oldest mother died of cancer that was diagnosed a few months before she was due to give birth (reported in BioNews 517). María Carmen del Bousada was 66 when she gave birth to twins after receiving fertility treatment.
In June last year, a woman from the USA became the world's oldest mother using her own eggs for IVF at 46 (reported in BioNews 756).