Pregnancy in IVF patients over the age of 50 'carries no more risk than in women under 42'
New research into pregnancy in older women has cast doubt over the blanket belief that the higher the age of the mother-to-be, the higher the likelihood of risk.
A study at Columbia University Medical Center of 101 post-menopausal women, all receiving IVF treatment using donated eggs, found that their subsequent pregnancies were at no more risk than those of younger women who conceived the same way.
It found that the women over 50 had the same likelihood of developing complications such as gestational diabetes, premature labour as patients undergoing the same treatment under the age of 42.
A study into post-menopausal women receiving IVF using donated eggs, were at no more risk than younger women who conceived the same way
The only difference in risk for the two age groups was that the older women had a marginally higher rate of developing high blood pressure.
Dr Mark Sauer, senior author
of the article, told LiveScience: 'These women do really pretty well.
'If they're well-screened and well cared for, they really should do OK.'
He explained that while egg production does indeed decrease with age, the ability to carry a child conceived with donor eggs will change less over time.
'The uterus is a very different organ than the ovaries,' he said.
The study, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Perinatology, is the largest to date into pregnancy in post-menopausal women.
HOW OLD IS TOO OLD: MOTHERHOOD OVER 50
Many IVF clinics have an age cut-off of 50-55, and require ID from a patient before they begin treatment.
The reason for this is not the woman's ability to carry a child, as much as their likelihood of living long enough to raise it.
Dr Sauer and Dr Richard Paulson, director of
USC Fertility, explained that 50-year-olds can expect to live another 30 years, given that the average woman dies at 84.
Any higher, Dr Paulson says, and the physical, emotional and financial toll could be too much for the woman.
'I lose my own personal comfort zone when you get over 60,' he admitted.
Dr Sauer was careful to point out that the women participating in his research were all wealthy and well-educated, therefore were careful to keep themselves in better physical health.
'These are smart, educated, well-off people that are doing this,' he explained, adding that pregnancy over 50 is still not common.
The fact that first time mothers are
getting older is an undeniable truth. though. Over the past ten years, the
number of women over 45 giving birth has more than doubled in the U.S.
And, the Centers for Disease Control, reveals, there has been a 375 per cent increase in the same period for births among women over 50.
The rising figure is mostly thanks to improved technology and medicine. Egg-freezing, for example, allows women to delay motherhood for longer than ever before.
And, obstetricians argue, many women in their fifties today are as fit and healthy as women ten or 15 years younger.
The success rate for women conceiving over the age of 40 using donated eggs is around 50 per cent, Dr Sauer revealed.
He added that celebrities who have had children in their late forties almost certainly used donor eggs, though they may be loathe to admit it.