A woman who gave birth at the age of 62 after undergoing IVF has been labelled selfish by the president of the Australian Medical Association.
In a tweet, Dr Michael Gannon said there were “greater priorities in women’s health”.
“Anyone thought ahead to its teens? Selfish, wrong,” he said.
Frances Perry Private Hospital in Melbourne’s inner north said the woman was recuperating after the baby’s birth.
The woman’s partner is reportedly 78 years old.
Meanwhile, Victorian reproduction specialist Dr Lynn Burmeister said there was no legal barrier to prevent older woman undergoing IVF treatment.
Melbourne’s Monash IVF clinic has a cut-off age of 53, but Dr Burmeister said that did not stop women from travelling overseas in their quest to become a parent.
“That is the natural age of menopause, so we’ve made a cut off at that point, but there’s actually no legal cut off,” she told 774 ABC Melbourne.
“So patients can access fertility treatment overseas; they will find clinics that will treat patients at this age.”
Dr Burmeister said she did not know where the 62-year-old had been treated.
In Australia, the number of women over 40 having fertility treatment has almost tripled in the last decade.
Dr Andrew Pesce, a former AMA president and obstetrician and gynaecologist in Sydney, said an official age limit could be helpful.
“It helps in your counselling of people who are very desperate, who are very vulnerable who may insist on saying, ‘I know you’re telling me I have no realistic chance of getting pregnant … but I still want to do it,'” he said.
“It would help clinicians to say ‘I’m sorry even though I feel very sorry for you … I can’t because I’m not allowed to’. And I think that would be a good thing.”
Risks involved with having children older, specialists say
Dr Pesce said there was no real data on the risks of women having babies in their 60s because “very, very few women that age that have ever been pregnant”.
“We know that as women get older they run the risk of increasing complications in pregnancy, even in the 40s age group,” he said.
“I can’t second guess the individual circumstances of this particular family, but I can understand why people do look at the age and say there’s a reason why in nature that you can’t get pregnant.
“Just because we can achieve a pregnancy with the help of medical technology, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right thing.”
Dr Burmeister said there were risks involved with having children later in life, adding that parents should consider the baby’s welfare.
“My issue is mainly based on that child and the welfare of that child being born to an older parent and the longevity of the parents,” she said.
“So this baby might have parents that are alive for the next 20 years, and hopefully become an adult and be able to look after themselves.
“But I suppose as a baby, if something does happen to the parents before that time, have the parents got enough support structures around them to bring that baby up?”
She said older women still accounted for a small percentage of those seeking IVF treatment so there was no need to change fertility assistance legislation in Australia.
“I don’t think that’s warranted,” she said.
“I have a lot of parents who come in in their 30s and they may have husbands in their 60s, so where do we discriminate?
“There’s lots of questions and a lot of discriminatory factors around treating patients as they are getting older.”
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