Wednesday, May 23, 2007

60-year old woman has twins

Feel free to read the whole story (or better let, let me summarize and snark for you):

About her husband, the wife said: "He sort of pushed me in this direction." That doesn't seem like a good idea, as you are the one enduring pregnancy at SIXTY (or twice as old as I was when I had a baby or three times as old as my own mother was....older than MiMi is now.

The older, adult children talking about their parents' decision: "My mother is too old, for health reasons and for lifestyle," Alana said last night. "I don't think she's thinking about the future - being 80 or 90 and having a kid." She said her brother is worried they will end up taking care of the babies. "He's against it even more than I am," she said.
Well, someone is thinking into the future.

The couple on their other options for family building: "They considered adopting, but had heard too many horror stories." I can tell you plenty of stories of assisted reproduction (like IVF) with less-than-happy endings, so let's just say that without additional details, this doesn't persuade me.

On whether she used her own eggs for the IVF (which for the record, I do not believe to be physically possible): The new mom played coy on whether she used her own eggs, which had been frozen years before, or eggs from a donor. "I'm not committing to an .answer to that," she said. "I just want people to know there are many options for women out there." Technically speaking, eggs are not frozen, embryos are, so technical details aside, even if she had frozen embryos from her first IVF 8 or ten years earlier, she still would have been in her 50s. Healthy pregnancies that go to term are not usually achieved after a woman is 45 and most clinics will not let you do egg retrieval for IVF after 43 because of diminished egg quality (high FSH levels if you are keeping track at home).

There are real risks (for younger women and for older women as well) to undergoing fertility treatments and carrying a twin pregnancy. Those risks increase with age. It's silly to pretend that this is strictly a matter of a woman's choice. There are real consequences and real children to consider. Hers is a happy ending story, but she could have gone into labor at 23 weeks and delivered terribly ill and premature babies instead of 4-lb 11-oz darlings. She is at higher risk for blood clots, stroke, seizures, and a whole host of complications that risk not only her health and life but the health and life of her babies. I certainly don't know what the cut-off age should be, but I am pretty sure, I would put it under 60. I'd put it at 48, I think, but maybe 50. Not sure. I would not want a woman of age 50 to undergo a twin pregnancy, but as teh success rates at that age are so low, it would be hard to convince anyone to undergo single embryo transfer (oh, the technical points to this...all highly technical but I know I covered it before during March of Dines Prematurity Awareness Month).

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