It is believed that with age, the ability to conceive and give birth decreases. Usually, the childbearing age falls on those years when we still have the strength and time to take care of the children. But scientific and technological progress has learned to reverse the laws of nature. As a result, what previously seemed to be impossible, now is a common thing. Pregnancy and childbirth is not an exception. In this article, we compiled a list of the oldest mothers of the world including the oldest woman to give birth.
Pregnancy at the Age of 50 and More
Recently, pregnancy over the age of 50 has become more possible. This happens due to recent studies and technologies in the field of the reproductive system, and in particular, egg donation. It’s not a secret that a woman’s fecundity ends with the menopause. By definition, this is 12 consecutive months without menstruation at all. During perimenopause, the menstrual cycle and the periods become irregular and eventually stop. At the same time, even when periods are still regular, the egg quality of women in their forties is lower than in younger women. Thus, the likelihood of conceiving a healthy baby decreases. To be more specific, it usually happens after the age of 42. It is important to note that the female biological clock is very individual and vary greatly from woman to woman. A woman’s individual level of fertility can be tested through a variety of methods.
According to the statistics, between 1997 and 1999 there were 539 births among mothers over age 50 in the United States. This is 4 per 100,000 births. 194 of them belonged to women over 55 years.
In most cases, late childbearing is associated with artificial insemination. However, in the history of many mothers who gave birth to children being at the age of 50, there are a lot of examples when children were conceived in a natural way. Here is the list of Top 15 oldest women in the history of mankind who conceived in a natural way and gave birth.
Top 15 World’s Oldest Mothers
Catherine Colonges is a Frenchwoman from Togo. In 2011 she gave birth to triplets (a girl and 2 boys) at the age of 52. At the time of the birth of the triplets, Catherine Colonges already had two sons (30 and 27 years old), a daughter (15 years old), and three grandchildren. She conceived naturally with her 51 years old husband Alain.
The Englishwoman Debbie Hughes, despite taking birth control pills, suddenly became pregnant and gave birth to a son at the age of 53. It is worth noting that by the time of the birth of this child (in 2011), Debbie Hughes already had two sons and two granddaughters. Debbie Hughes also had a daughter, but she died tragically shortly before her 18th birthday.
The American Lucy Gauss Kenney in 1880 gave birth to her last child at the age of 53 years.
Solange Couto dos Santos is a Brazilian actress. She is known for example in the role of Dona Jura in the TV series “Clone”. In 2010, the actress married a student who is 30 years younger than her. By that time she had already had two children. In 2011, a 54-year-old Solange Couto dos Santos gave birth to her third child whose father is her current husband.
In 2009, a 54-year-old Israeli woman gave birth to twins (a boy and a girl) from her 71-year-old husband. It was the first time he became a father. The woman had children from her first marriage earlier.
The American Aracelia Garcia (54 years old) in 2000 struck doctors by having conceived without hormonal drugs and gave birth (by Cesarean section) to the triplets. She gave birth to 3 healthy girls: Arianna, Brianna, and Cecelia (to play on the initials A, B, C).
The Englishwoman Elizabeth Greenhill in 1669 at the age of 54 years gave birth to her 39th child. In total Elizabeth had given 38 births (single pregnancy 37 times and once – twins). All her children survived. Elizabeth Greenhill is the record holder for the number of successful births and one of the mothers with the greatest number of children in human history. Elizabeth herself said that if it had not been for her husband’s death before the birth of the 39th child, she might have given birth to two or three more children.
The Englishwoman Kathleen Campbell in 1987 gave birth to her son at the age of 55 years. By this time, she had already been a grandmother by one of her 6 elder children aged 16-22. Kathleen gave birth to her 7th child by C-section. The father of the child is her 65 years old husband.
The Chilean Leontina Albina gave birth to a child in 1981 at the age of 55 years.
The Russian Raisa Akhmadeeva from Ulyanovsk in 2008 with the help of Cesarean section gave birth to her first child at the age of 56 years. At birth, the child (it was a boy) weighed 1.1 lb. and had a height of 1.6 ft. By that time her husband had already had 3 children but they always wanted to have a child together.
A woman from Kiev (Ukraine), whose name is unknown, in 2008 became Ukraine’s oldest woman to give birth. At that time she was 57 years old. She gave birth to a son by a Cesarean section. At birth, the baby weighed 8,6 lb. It was the fourth child of a woman. Her first child died tragically at the age of 20 years, after which she tried to give birth again. But her twins (boys) died in 10 days after birth. So, she always wanted to have a child, led a healthy lifestyle and her desire was realized.
The Russian Natalya Surkova became the oldest mother of Russia. In 1996, a 57-year-old woman, who already had two adult children, gave birth to a daughter. At birth, the girl weighed 7.6 lb. and had a height of 1.7 ft. She became pregnant after 1.5 years of hormonal treatment, having been established in premenopausal. Surkova, a divorced mother of two adult children, decided to give birth to one more child because her new partner was childless.
The American Ruth Kistler in 1956 being at the age of 57 years gave birth to a daughter. Her pregnancy predated the advent of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) making Kistler one of the oldest women known to have conceived naturally. Born in June 1899, she died in 1982, at the age of 82 or 83. Her daughter was 25 or 26 at that time.
Dawn Brooke, from the island of Guernsey (possession of Great Britain) in 1997 gave birth by a cesarean section to her son, being at the age of 59 years. Hormone therapy helped her to get pregnant. She became pregnant unexpectedly. At the beginning, she associated the symptoms she experienced with cancer. It has been speculated that the hormone replacement therapy which she had may have contributed to her ability to ovulate past menopause. Dawn Brooke is the oldest mother in the history of mankind, who conceived in a natural way and gave birth to a living child.
The 1st place belongs to Wenick Ellen Ellis, who in 1776 gave birth to her 13th child, at the age of 72 years. Unfortunately, the miracle did not happen – the baby was stillborn.
3 World’s Oldest Mothers Who Gave Birth after Artificial Insemination
The 3rd place – the Romanian Adriana Iliescu, who gave birth at 66 years. Adriana is a lonely mother, but she took care of the welfare of her daughter in advance. An interesting fact: one of the girls’ guardians after Adriana’s death will be a doctor who performed the IVF procedure.
Adriana Iliescu was 66 years old when she prematurely gave birth to her baby in 2005. She tried to conceive a child by IVF for 9 years. Everyone thought she would give birth to the triplets, but one of the triplets died still in the womb, the second one was born dead. Adriana always wanted to have children, but she could not conceive naturally.
In January 2005, at the age of 66 years with the help of IVF she gave birth to a daughter Eliza weighing 3 lb.
2nd Place – Maria del Carmen Bousada Lara
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest mother on the planet is the Spanish Maria del Carmen Bousada Lara, born in 1940. December 29, 2006, at the hospital in Barcelona, she gave birth to twins (the boys Christian and Pau) with the help of a cesarean section. At the time of delivery she was 66 years and 358 days. The children were conceived with the help of IVF in a California clinic using donated materials, for which the future mother had to sell her house in Spain. And she deceived doctors, saying that she was not 66, but only 55 years old.
Her mother lived to the age of 101, and Maria thought that she was lucky with the mother’s genes and that she could raise two children and even see grandchildren. Her family criticized her, calling her decision “selfish”, but she defended herself, saying that “every decision has its own time.”
However, on July 11, 2009, she died of ovarian cancer.
The Oldest Woman to Give Birth – the 1st Place
Unfortunately, the two oldest Indian mothers – Rajo Devi and Omkari Panwar could not get to the record book because they did not have official documents confirming their age. Omkari Panwar did not even have her child’s birth certificate.
Both women were 70 years old at the time of the delivery. Rajo Devi could not conceive a child for 50 years. The woman was infertile until she turned to the IVF clinic. Then she gave birth to a healthy girl.
For more than 50 years in a marriage, she and her husband tried to conceive a child, but their attempts were not successful. By the age of 69, they were morally and financially ready for the IVF procedure.
The attempt was a success. In 2008 the couple had a healthy daughter, but her mother’s health was severely damaged. The pregnancy itself, the birth which ended with a rupture of the uterus and a Cesarean section, and the postoperative period were also very difficult.
The mother hopes that after her death the girl will not be left alone because she has a lot of relatives. From the point of view of her compatriots, she acted correctly since childlessness is considered a sin. But when the news of a wonderful birth, and then of the state of Rajo flew around the world, many considered the decision of an elderly couple very, very controversial from a moral point of view. The right of physicians to carry out the IVF procedure at such an age was questioned as well. Indian doctors even offered to apply sanctions to the doctor who performed the IVF procedure.
As for mothers who gave birth to children after artificial insemination, the record belongs to the 70-year-old Indian Omkari Panwar, who in 2008 gave birth to twins (a boy and a girl) by Cesarean section, each weighing 4.5 lb. At the time of the birth of twins, the woman already had two adult daughters and five grandchildren. The 77-year-old husband of the woman wanted a male heir very much, so the woman decided to try artificial insemination. To pay for IVF procedure the couple spent all their savings and took a loan in a bank. After the birth of his son, the joyful father said: “The treatment cost me a fortune, but the birth of my son is worth it. I can die a happy man and a proud father.”
It’s not a secret that the risk of pregnancy complications increases as the mother’s age increases. Risks associated with childbearing of women over the age of 50 years include an increased incidence of gestational diabetes, hypertension, Cesarean section, miscarriage, preeclampsia, and placenta previa. In comparison to younger mothers (20 – 29 years of age), mothers over 50 years have a higher risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and extremely premature birth. The risk of extremely low birth weight, too short gestational age and fetal mortality is almost double in older women.