herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Number of women having babies after 45 doubles in 10 years

Janet Jackson had baby at 50
Janet Jackson had baby at 50

The oldest woman to give birth in Ireland in the past decade was 54.

Official statistics have also shown that the number over 45 bearing children had more than doubled in 10 years.

An increasing number of Irish women are having babies after their 50th birthday, up from only four in 2007 to 13 last year.

The figure hit a peak of 17 in 2015, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Pop star Janet Jackson gained worldwide attention when she gave birth to her first child, a boy, at the start of this year, seven months after turning 50.

The trend for older motherhood is bolstered by people living longer and advances in fertility treatments.

Irish women can now use healthy donor eggs of women in their 20s from countries such as the Czech Republic, Spain and Ukraine for a safer pregnancy in middle age.

The latest figures show a sharp increase in Irish women giving birth to children after they hit 45, up from 118 in 2007 to 295 last year.

The IVF Cube fertility clinic in Prague revealed that three 50-year-old Irish women have had successful pregnancies in recent years with donor eggs at the Czech treatment centre.

Decline

In each case the eggs were transferred from donor to mother the day before each mum-to-be turned 50.

Czech laws changed last year, bringing forward the final eligible date by a year to the eve of the 49th birthday.

Most Irish patients treated in Prague are over 35 - the age when the quality of a woman's eggs starts to decline.

Of the 670 Irish patients over the past six years, 43pc were aged between 41 and 45.

Later-life motherhood is thought to have been driven partly by high-profile pregnancies.

Holywood star Halle Berry described the birth of her son, Maceo, after she turned 47 as a "shock" and a "miracle".

Actress Kelly Preston and husband John Travolta were thrilled when she gave birth to a boy, Benjamin, in 2010, nearly two years after their 16-year-old son Jet died.

Thelma and Louise star Geena Davis had a daughter at 46 and twins at 48, while supermodel Iman was 45 when she gave birth to her daughter with David Bowie.

Dr Hana Visnova, medical director of the IVF Cube Clinic, said donor eggs had "revolutionised" treatment.

"Many women are now choosing to delay starting a family, only to realise their chances of being able to conceive naturally have started to decline rapidly," she said.

"Some have even described it as like being given a 'golden' ticket to be able to start a family."

Safety is a priority, with donors screened for health and genetic issues under EU law.

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