Friday, February 6, 2009

Ethical Questions on 60-Year-Old Woman Giving Birth


Ranjit Hayer, 60, gave birth by Caesarean section to twin boys, Manjot and Gurpreet, at Foothills Hospital of Calgary, Canada, on February 3. She is thought to be the eldest woman in Canada to be pregnant and giving birth. According to family members, the twins are doing fine in spite of being born seven weeks before the due date, reports the daily National Post.

Other Advanced-Age Mothers

In January, 2005, 66-year-old Adriana Iliescu, a retired unmarried university lecturer and children's story writer, gave birth to a girl in Romania. In 2006, a Turkish woman of 64 years gave birth to a son in Istanbul. In the same year, a Spanish woman of 67 years, after in vitro fertilization, delivered twins in Barcelona.

In 2008, Omkari Panwar, 70, gave birth to twins in Muzaffarnagar, near New Delhi of India, after in vitro fertilization treatments. The father was 77-year-old Charan Singh Panwar, a farmer.

Medico-ethical Questions

Doctors and bioethics experts are raising questions on the medical and ethical implications of giving births at an advanced age. The National Post reports that old-age motherhood frequently involves in premature births and multiple children sets, which can lead to health problems such as underdeveloped eyes and kidneys, low birth weights and a number of "downstream" health implications.

After Adriana Iliescu, 66, gave birth to a girl in 2005, Dr. Arthur Kaplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, raised a question three years ago: "How old is too old to have a baby?" He said: "Any woman over the age of 40 constitutes a high-risk pregnancy -- the medical risks rise rapidly for mothers older than 40 and for their babies. These risks became terribly real in the case of Iliescu's pregnancy. The child she delivered was born premature -- a low birth-weight baby. This poses serious problems for the baby...."

Age Limit Suggested

Dr. Kaplan says: "My proposal is that anyone over 65 who is single should not be allowed to use reproductive technology to have a child. If you have a partner, then your total ages should not be more than 130. And if you are a female at or near 55 years of age and hoping to become pregnant, then you should only be allowed to use reproductive technology if you can pass a rigorous physical examination. At age 66, forget it." Bookmark and Share