World's Oldest Mom Says She Is 'Seriously Ill'

Marian del Carmen Bousada de Lara became the world's oldest mother when she gave birth in Spain to twins, just before her 67th birthday last year.

Now, the woman who sparked a worldwide debate on the medical and moral issues brought on by postmenopausal births has told a Spanish TV station she has come down with "a serious illness."

Bousada de Lara did not elaborate on the exact nature of her illness, but Spanish and British media have previously reported on rumors she has cancer.

"I am having treatment and that … but I'm well. The little ones are beautiful, very chubby, very big, " she told the TV show.

Asked about criticism that she was too old is to have children, she said, "I have a girl who helps me look after the children. I am always there for them. I always have help."

Bousada de Lara said if she dies, her nephew or the children's godfather would take care of the children. "They are not going to be alone. But come on, I'm not thinking at the moment that I'm going to [die]."

Bousada de Lara, who is single, has admitted she lied about her age, saying she was 55, and paid $60,000 to receive fertility treatment at a private clinic in the United States. Her twin sons will be 1 Dec. 29.

When asked whether she regretted her decision to have babies so late in life, the retired shop worker told the TV show, "No, not all. Not at all. No."

At the time of the birth, many were horrified by the case, wondering whether an old-age pensioner was physically capable of raising two children.

The woman's brother Manuel, 74, told the media, "My mother would roll in her grave if she knew."

Health Risks

Doctors and psychologists say there can be health risks associated with having a baby when a woman is older than 50, not to mention the emotional impact on the child if a parent dies.

But some experts say that pregnancy in women of advanced maternal age brings far more positive benefits than negative ones to both mother and child.

And now — with egg donation and in vitro fertilization — older women can enjoy motherhood past menopause.

"When women conceive over 50, it's more complicated for the children," said Pamela Madsen, executive director and founder of the American Fertility Association.

"With egg donation, the issues are more emotional," she said. "It's not mommy's egg, and maybe not even mommy's womb. Mommy is often confused with grandma, and that's embarrassing for kids."

Still, she says, many younger mothers have no energy, and many disabled parents raise children successfully. And women of all ages get sick.

"Life is unpredictable at best," Madsen said.

The childbearing age of American women has been on the upswing since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The biggest increase has occurred in women between 35 and 44, but rising rates are also seen in the 45-49 age group at .06 births per 1,000.

Richard Paulson, chief of reproductive endocrinology at the University of Southern California, says in vitro fertilization of postmenopausal women is still not common — only about 10 a year in his practice, and only a few hundred a year, worldwide.

"It's a safe procedure if a woman doesn't have any underlying disease," Paulson said.

A woman's eggs decline in quality as they age. In studies during the 1980s, doctors observed that women after 45 rarely got pregnant with their own eggs, and after 55, they almost never conceived.

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