A 65-year-old Bnei Brak woman gave birth this week, becoming the oldest woman to give birth in Israel. The ultra-Orthodox woman and her 67-year-old husband had been battling infertility for 46 years before the birth at Kfar Sava’s Meir hospital.
After fertility treatments abroad and with the help of a donor egg, the woman became pregnant, giving birth to a 2.685-kg baby in her 35th week of pregnancy. The hospital stated that the Caesarean section was uneventful and the baby was born healthy.
“To the best of my knowledge, this is the oldest woman to give birth in Israel. It is extremely rare that pregnancy at this age ends well. We do not wish to create the illusion that giving birth at this age is safe or recommended, on the contrary,” Dr. Tal Biron, head of obstetrics at Meir Hospital, told Haaretz. Biron birthed the baby and cared for the woman for part of her pregnancy.
Age 65 is years after the natural end of fertility in women, and efforts to become pregnant at an advanced age involve fertility treatment and the use of donor eggs. In Israel, the law limits the transfer of embryos into the uterus to women aged up to 54. This particular woman underwent fertility treatment abroad.
“The patient came to me in her 12th week of pregnancy,” Biron recounts. “It was clear that despite years of efforts, she had never given up the dream of becoming a mother. My job was to help her travel this journey safely without touching on the many ethical questions surrounding pregnancy at this age.”
Biron explains that pregnancy in older women is high-risk, characterized by high instances of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, which can develop into preeclampsia, which would require preterm induction of labor, raising the risks of premature birth and substantial complications. “We were pleased this did not develop in her case.”
After the highly unusual birth, ultra-Orthodox websites were quick to report the “miracle” that happened to the childless couple. The ultra-Orthodox circle from which the couple comes attributed the pregnancy and birth to a blessing the woman received from a Hassidic rabbi. After the birth, the couple thanked the medical team for the dedicated care. “The baby is a darling and there is no despair in the world and the chapter never ends,” the couple said.
The instance raises many questions regarding pregnancy and parenthood at an advanced age. These range from the implications of fertility treatments for both the mother and baby, as well as the significance for the child born to older parents.
Births when the mother is in her 50s and 60s are unusual, but have occasionally occurred. In January, a 56-year-old woman gave birth to her first son at Rehovot’s Kaplan Hospital after years of fertility treatments.
“In recent years there is an increase in the age at which women get pregnant,” Biron said. “We see no small number of patients who begin their family planning around age 40. This naturally raises the risks and as doctors we are certainly dealing now with more high-risk pregnancies.”