Older mothers cope just as well with a new baby

Californian scientists have found that women who become mothers after age 50 are physically and mentally as capable of fulfilling the role of a good mother as women who are much younger.

In fact the researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) say older mothers do not have higher stress levels or more health risks than younger mothers.

The researchers analyzed 150 women in their 30s, 40s and 50s who had all received fertility treatment between 1992 and 2004 through the USC's donated eggs programme, and had conceived.

The scientists surveyed the group in order to determine their physical and mental functioning and parental stress.

The researchers found overall that the women in their 50s did not have reduced parental capacity or higher stress levels than the younger women and say as far as physical and mental functioning are concerned, it appears that becoming a parent should not be restricted.

Researcher Dr. Anne Steiner says opposition to older mothers may in reality be based on prejudice rather than scientific evidence that they are inadequate parents.

She says on the basis of the results, restricting parenting because of age is unfounded.

Dr. Anne Steiner says however that the study involved many women with younger partners, which could influence their ability to cope, but does dispel the myth that older women should be barred from having IVF on account of their age.

Other experts say the study is too small and limited and fails to address the effect on children as mothers grow older and children of 18 have parents in their 70s and 80s and are as old as their peers' grandparents.

A 62-year-old child psychiatrist Dr. Patricia Rashbrook of Lewes, East Sussex, and her husband John Farrant, 60, travelled abroad to get IVF treatment and in July she became the oldest woman in Britain to have a baby.

Romanian Adriana Iliescu is thought to be the oldest woman in the world to give birth; she had a daughter called Eliza Maria in January last year at the age of 66.

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicines.

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