Are you really “as young as you feel”? In Vitro Fertilisation

Similar concerns as to the welfare of children born as a result of IVF have been expressed with regards to its use by women who have passed the age or normal menopause.

Case Study: The Cantadoris

Liliana and Orlando Cantadori married when Linda was aged 44. Despite her being older than most prospective mums, Linda wished to try for a baby, especially since her own mother gave birth aged 50.

The couple tried for many years to have a baby, with Liliana miscarrying on two occasions, but to no avail. They therefore sought IVF treatment from Professor Carlo Flamigni, Italy’s leading specialist in the technology. Because of her relatively advanced age at the time of consultation, Linda told Professor Flamigni that she was 52.

Having warned her of the dangers that attempting treatment at her age could have for Liliana, the professor agreed to go ahead with the procedure in light of the couple’s desire to proceed despite now being in full awareness of the potential risks.

Eventually when Liliana was 61, the couple had a son, with both mother and baby being in good health following the birth.

(Singer 1999)

Whilst the birth of their son clearly brought the Cantadoris great joy, concerns were soon voiced over the future welfare of their son (and children born to mothers of a similar age).

As Brazier and Cave highlight:

If a woman gives birth at 62, she will be 80 before her child is legally an adult. It is more likely that her health may decline, or the child will face the death of his mother, than if she were merely 40.

Supporters of the older IVF mothers however, point to the fact that the same arguments are not made against men who frequently have babies in their 50s and beyond. They also stress that even if the child did have to experience the death of their parent at a relatively young age, is it still not better that that child had been granted life than the alternative?