donor conception, fertility, In the news, Parenting

“55-year-old becomes Britain’s oldest mother of triplets”

This is yet another media story about what we shouldn’t be doing in third party reproduction.  The decision to transfer 3 embryos (created from eggs from a young donor) into a 55 year old woman, and (predictably) resulting in the premature birth of triplets is clearly a problem.  This will inevitably have implications for the health of these babies (they have already spent the first 11 weeks of their lives in hospital) and their parents will be in their late 60s before the children even complete primary school.  In my view this is exactly why we need strong regulatory frameworks around our fertility treatments – to protect parents, donors and surrogates, but also the babies who are born as a result of these medical developments.


5 thoughts on ““55-year-old becomes Britain’s oldest mother of triplets””

    1. Dear Eco-Feminist,
      thank you for your comment, it is great to stimulate some discussion about such a sensitive topic. I wonder what others think about the issue of significantly older parents having babies that wouldn’t be possible without significant interventions such as this?
      The mother in this instance is a 55 year old woman who already has 4 adult children and has subsequently commenced a relationship with a man who had never had his own children. She is without doubt an experienced an capable parent, but I wonder about the longer term implications for the babies as their parents continue to age.


      1. We’re not all dying at 60 anymore. Who cares if the parent is older? Why does it bother you so much that you want to regulate when a woman can or cannot reproduce? What about the long term implications of mothers who are too young and don’t have the maturity to be parents? I’m doubting most of the kids in the overflowing foster system are from older parents. There are lots of young parents who sit around and don’t do squat with their kids, don’t spend time with them, and engage in life threatening behaviors all the time. We can’t make blanket statements based on age – we have to focus on individual behaviors which determines the quality of parent and their effect on the child.


      2. Hi EcoFeminist,
        I don’t believe we can make blanket statements based on age – be that for older or younger mothers. Your comments about disengaged parents could equally apply to parents at age 20, 30, 40 or 50. Each of us bring different resources to the parenting role – be they financial, emotional, physical or social resources, and this will also generally change for each of us over time.

        My comment about regulatory frameworks may have been misunderstood – I believe there should be regulations about clinics, agencies and professionals – I am not proposing we commence parental licensing. Fertility societies around the world (such as the ASRM, RTAC etc) and most clinics impose arbitrary maximums on the age that patients can receive fertility treatment. In fact a set of International fertility treatment guidelines for older parents is available at Even in the story I refer to in my blog, the woman travelled to Cyprus for treatment because “she was too old for fertility treatment through the British National Health Service”. These age limits are set as there are known risks associated with pregnancy at a significantly later age than would have occurred without the assistance of fertility treatment.

        I understand that the average mortality age is significantly older than it once was, but on average, it is predictable that health deteriorates with advancing age. Most of us are not as fit and healthy at 60 as we are at 20 or 30, and this will inevitably have implications on the way we parent. It also must be accepted that on average a child born to a 55 year old parent will have that parent die 20 year sooner than a child who was born to a 35 year old parent. The experience of losing a parent at 40 or 50 is far more normative to grieving a parent when you are only in your 20s.


      3. NHS also doesn’t let you do IVF if your husband smokes, if your BMI is what they consider too high, and if you’re over 40-41. I’m 42 and all my 40something friends got pregnant the old fashioned way – does that mean I shouldn’t be allowed to be doing IVF, that I shouldn’t be allowed to be a parent because I don’t fall in line with what government insurance determines they want to pay for? Hell no. I lost my dad well before I was 40 and my husband lost his in his 40s and it sure as hell was not more “normative” for him.


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