Women giving birth in their sixties will soon become much more common as starting a family is being left later than ever, experts have warned.
The world’s largest fertility conference, held this week in America, is now advising professionals on dealing with the rise of so-called ‘grey mothers’ – with celebrities blamed for making late motherhood look easy and risk-free.
But fertility psychologists warn that women using IVF to have babies in their fifties and sixties risk traumatising their young children by dying or becoming ill, as well as the serious medical complications they face by becoming pregnant so late in life.
Fertility psychologists warn that women using IVF to have babies in their fifties and sixties risk traumatising their young children
Latest figures show that, in England and Wales, babies born to women aged 50 to 54 quadrupled in a generation – from 55 in 2001 to 238 in 2016. In those over 55, there were two babies born in 2001 and 20 in 2016.
There are no figures for women in their sixties, but Britain’s oldest mother, Elizabeth Adeney, gave birth aged 66 in 2009 following IVF treatment in Ukraine. She said: ‘It’s not physical age that is important – it’s how I feel inside.’
There are no figures for women in their sixties, but Britain’s oldest mother, Elizabeth Adeney, gave birth aged 66 in 2009 following IVF treatment
Dr Julianne Zweifel and Dr Julia Woodward, clinical psychologists from Wisconsin-Madison and Duke universities, held the training course on older mothers at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Denver.
Dr Zweifel said: ‘The drive to be a mother is so strong they don’t think about the problems their child will face until after it is born.’ Dr Woodward added: ‘Women think, “I can wait longer because the IVF clinic will solve it.” ’
Experts suggest the ‘Janet Jackson effect’ is encouraging the trend – the pop singer was 50 when she had her first child. Actresses Brigitte Nielsen and Rachel Weisz this year had daughters at 54 and 48 respectively.
Professor Geeta Nargund, medical director of Create Fertility, said: ‘Women are leaving it late to have children in Britain and reproductive tourism for older women, to go abroad for donor eggs and come back pregnant, is increasing.’