January 17, 2010
59 Year Old Pregnant After Baby At Age 57

Susan Tollefsen, who gave birth to her 2 year old daughter Freya when she was 57, is now 59 and pregnant with baby #2.

A 59-year-old woman has become the oldest person ever to be offered fertility treatment by a British clinic.

Doctors at the private London Women’s Clinic on Harley Street, one of the most successful IVF units in the country, have unanimously agreed to help Susan Tollefsen conceive.

Leave aside the ethical considerations due to possible harm to the fetus due to developing in a 59 year old womb. It is amazing that a 59 year old womb might carry a baby to term. Of course, a few older women have already completed pregnancies successfully (though some with premature delivery). Rajo Devi, 70 when she gave birth to a premature baby, might hold the record for oldest woman to deliver a baby. This is risky stuff for the woman. 69 year old Spanish woman Maria del Carmen Bousada died of cancer 2 years after giving birth to twins. She might have gotten the cancer from hormones used to reverse her menopause. Since her brother might not live long enough to raise the twins they'll probably wind up orphans at some point. Higher rates of complications with age stir ethical debate about elderly women starting pregnancies.

The willingness of some women in their 50s and older to try to start risky pregnancies makes me think women like them will eventually try untested risky stem cell rejuvenation therapies to make their wombs and other body parts more able to carry a baby to term. The desire to reproduce is an instinct that drives some to take considerable risks with their health and the health of the babies they bear.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 January 17 06:54 PM  Bioethics Reproduction

Wind Rider said at January 19, 2010 2:29 PM:

Prime examples of 'just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do something'.

If the formula for extending human lifespan to a point where 70 chronological years is no more than 45-50% of lifespan (or even less), then maybe this wouldn't seem so outrageous. At this point, however, overlapping the prime development period of a new life with what is quite likely the beginning of terminal frailty of another just doesn't seem like such a rational thing to do. Forget arguments about the immediacy of potential complications with carriage to term - the considerations of almost guaranteeing that the child will be orphaned relatively prematurely should be raising huge red flags as well. It's rather topically counter-intuitive that such an arrangement could, by any stretch of the imagination, be beneficial for the child(ren) born of such a situation.

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