Australian sparks debate by giving birth at 62

SYDNEY • A woman who gave birth at the age of 62 after in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment has sparked an ethical debate in Australia, with a medical chief lashing out at the "selfish and wrong" decision.

The unidentified woman, whose partner is 78, gave birth to a girl by caesarean section at a private hospital in Melbourne on Monday, reports said, making her one of Australia's oldest new mothers.

Dr Michael Gannon, an obstetrician and gynaecologist who is president of the Australian Medical Association, took to Twitter to condemn the parents. "Selfish, wrong," he tweeted, adding that there were "greater priorities in women's health". "This is a rights issue. Consider rights of the child, society, taxpayer. Madness. Not designed to have kids in 60s," he added.

He later told reporters there were safety issues, with older women who became pregnant more at risk of diabetes, blood pressure problems, heart attacks, stroke and blood clots.

Channel Seven reported that the woman and her partner had conceived through IVF overseas, using a donor embryo.

There is no legal barrier to prevent older women undergoing IVF treatment in Australia, although many providers will not treat anyone over 50 due to the risks involved.

Professor Gab Kovacs, a Melbourne gynaecologist known as a pioneer in the development and success of IVF, criticised the woman's pregnancy as not being what the treatment was designed for.

"Being pregnant (at 62) is dangerous to the mother and baby," he told the Melbourne Age. "She might have had high blood pressure, which is much more common at a later age. She might have been bleeding behind the placenta, which is much more common at a later age. Also, by the time the child is going to be 21, the mother is going to be 84."

Prof Kovacs added that the birth sent the wrong message to older women who might be considering having a child. "If you look at 100 women who have babies in this situation, there wouldn't be many very happy stories," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2016, with the headline 'Australian sparks debate by giving birth at 62'. Print Edition | Subscribe