Thursday, May 17, 2012
Mothering: The Oldest, Youngest, and Most Prolific Mothers in the World by James U. Sy Jr.
This article is already a bit late for Mother’s Day but it’s better late than never. Traditionally, women were generally accepted to be able to bear a child up to their 30’s. However, with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment, it has now become possible to artificially impregnate a woman twice that age and some more. Over the years, a number of women had been given the distinction as the world's oldest mother. However, records like this get broken now and then. The latest holder of this record is Rajo Devi Lohan gave birth via caesarean section to her only child, daughter Naveen, to farmer Balla in India in November 2008 at the age of 70. Another Indian woman, Omkari Panwar, also gave birth to twins - a boy and girl - via caesarean section at the age of 70. While Panwar was also dubbed as the world's oldest mother in news reports, this claim is debatable since she has no birth certificate; she uses the date of India's independence (1947) to gauge her age. She remembers being nine when the British left India. Yet another Indian woman, Bhateri Devi (B: May 21, 1944), is dubbed as the world's oldest mother of triplets when she gave birth via caesarean to two boys and a girl on May 29, 2010 in India at the age of 66. The distinction as the world's oldest mother was previously held by former shop worker Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara of Spain, who she gave birth to twin boys (Christian and Pau) on December 29, 2006 at the age of 66. Another woman given the distinction as the world's oldest mother in other news reports was Romanian Adriana Iliescu who gave birth to a daughter, Eliza, at age 66 in January 2005. She however, is 130 days younger than Bousada. Meanwhile, businesswoman Elizabeth Adeney of Suffolk is the oldest mother in Great Britain at age 66. The previous record holder was psychiatrist Dr. Patricia Rashbrook who had a son at age 62. The common denominator for all these seven elderly mothers is that they went through IVF treatment. Both Lohan and Devi had fertility treatment at the National Fertility Centre in Haryana. Bousada travelled to the US for fertility treatment at the Pacific Fertility Clinic in Los Angeles; Adeney travelled to Ukraine; and Rashbrook travelled to Russia in 2006. Lohan spent £2,000; Panwar, 350,000 rupees (£4,375 or $9,000); and Bousada (£30,000). There were outbursts and criticisms for these treatments since letting these elderly women go into the procedure placed them at great risks due to their advanced ages. These concerns are not without basis. After the cesarean birth, Lohan’s womb ruptured and she suffered severe internal bleeding. She later had to have another operation to remove a large ovarian cyst. 18 months later she was dying. Bousada was diagnosed with cancer after giving birth. Less than three years later she died although the exact cause of death has not been confirmed by the hospital. It has been observed that IVF treatment tends to result to multiple births, as was the case for Lohan, Devi, Panwar, and Bousada. Panwar’s twins were born a month premature and only weighed 2 lbs. each. Statistics show that the chance of a woman having twins is increased after the age of 35; about 1 in 27 women will give birth to twins after this age. After 50 the chances of having twins is 1 in 9. Bousada had to lie about her age since the American clinic had set the maximum age for single women undergoing the procedure at 55. Adeney and Rashbrook had to go overseas since most clinics in Great Britain will not treat women above the age of 50 although there is no official age limit. So what drove these women to take the risk? Generally, the need to become and the feeling of being mothers. In the case of Omkari Panwar and her husband retired farmer Charan Singh Panwar, 75 (2008), to have a son and heir. The couple has two grown up daughters and five grandchildren but they wanted a male. The other extreme of mothering is at an early age. A 10 year old Colombian girl from the town of Manaure, Colombia, who is a member of the indigenous tribe Wayuu, gave birth to a baby girl via caesarean section in April 2012 in Colombia. Giving birth at an early age is part of the Wayuu tribe culture. The girl, however, does not hold the record for the youngest mother in the world. The world's youngest mother is Lina Medina of Peru, who gave birth to a baby boy just two weeks after her 5th birthday in 1933. The delivery was via caesarean section since her pelvis was too small. She has not named the father and it is unclear whether or not she knows herself. On a related note, the world's youngest parents were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910. The largest number of children born to one woman is 69 babies. A Russian peasant woman gave birth to 16 sets of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets for the period 1725-1765. Another woman gave birth to twins 56 days apart (and in different years) in Sydney, Australia (December 17, 1952 and February 10, 953).