Older Moms, Healthy Families

At any age, moms still have much to offer their kids.

ByABC News
January 29, 2007, 5:54 PM

Jan. 30, 2007 — -- Monday, at the age of 67, a Spanish woman became the oldest new mother in the world.

Carmela Bousada was so desperate to have children of her own, she lied to doctors at a Los Angeles fertility clinic. Shaving more than 10 years off her age, she claimed she was 55 years old.

Now Bousada is a single mother of healthy twins -- who will graduate from high school when she turns 85.

While there is no limit to fertility treatments in women of any age, many question how having a significantly older parent as the primary caregiver affects the family.

Having the right energy level, financial security and an understanding of the generation gap are all challenges this mother might face, says Judith Myers-Walls, an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue University.

"The fact that she's single and as old as she is makes it very unlikely she'll get support from her parents, or have friends with children the same age."

Not only is this important for providing some respite from the strain of raising two children, it can also become a social problem too, as "the gap is over a couple of generations here," Myers-Walls says.

"This poses a challenge in her understanding changes in childrearing and identifying with other mothers -- she could have a difficult time fitting in."

Without others to lean on, Bousada will have to tackle late nights and the challenge of getting two children to eat and sleep on schedule by herself.

"There's also the potential she is reaching retirement," says Myers-Walls -- an added pressure that could result in her being "less likely to report the joys of parenting."

With regard to the children, they will have to bear the burden of the future.

"As these children get older they will have to think about caring for their mom" and take on responsibilities that kids their age don't usually worry about, says Myers-Walls.

Many critics question the ethics behind fertility treatments for older women.