This morning, the Today Show ran a segment in which it asked, "How old is too old to have a baby?" The story featured Bhateri Devi, a 66-year-old Indian woman who recently gave birth to triplets and Rajo Devi Lohan, also Indian, who became the world's oldest known first-time mom in 2008 at age 70. Post-menopausal birth (via in vitro fertilization, generally with donor eggs) is common in countries like India, where women without children are stigmatized and where there is no upper age limit for women seeking fertility treatment. It seems troubling that doctors overlook both health risks to older moms (including high blood pressure, strain on the heart and lungs, increased potential for premature birth or spontaneous abortion, and difficulties healing postpartum) and the ethical conundrum of mothering a child in the later years of a woman's life. One doctor in the video plainly stated that what happens after a healthy baby is born was not his concern. And, in fact, Lohan, now 72, recently revealed to the UK's Daily Mail that she is dying following complications from her IVF pregnancy, and that she was never informed of any potential health risks of pregnancy so late in life; her doctors deny a link between her deteriorating health and her pregnancy. Regardless, her 18-month-old daughter may soon be without a mother.
True, it sucks that women have an internal clock that men don't, but by this age we all should have learned that life isn't always fair. Today's Dr. Nancy Snyderman says women should start asking serious questions before having a child at age fifty. What do you think? Is this unethical and unsafe, or none of our business?