Births to mums over 50 soaring: Midwives raise fears as number doubles in five years

The number of women aged 50 and over who gave birth in 2012 hit 154, up from 69 in 2008
154 babies born to over-50s mothers in 2012, official figures show Older mothers are more at risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies Babies born to older mums are more at risk of genetic problems Advances in IVF treatment also mean women are waiting longer for children The number of women over 50 who are having babies has more than doubled in five years. Every week around three children are born to a mother in her fifties, the latest figures show.The dramatic increase in births to older women will deepen fears over the health of both the mothers and their babies. Older women are more likely to have miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies while their children are more likely to be born with genetic abnormalities. Midwives also warn that because older mothers and their offspring often require higher levels of care, extra pressure is put on the NHS. Health ministers revealed the sharp rise in older mothers in a parliamentary question. In 2012, there were 154 babies born to mothers over the age of 50, up by a third in a year. The figure has more than doubled since 2008 when there were 69 births to women aged 50 and over. In 2000 the number was 44. The number of births to mothers aged 40 and over has also risen, up 13 per cent from 26,419 in 2008 to 29,994 in 2012. It means one in 25 are to mothers who have turned 40. Even someone who has a child aged over the age 35 is considered an ‘older mother’ by medical professionals. Around 20 per cent of babies are born to women aged 35 or older, the highest proportion since records began in 1938. At the same time, only 23 per cent of births were to women aged under 25 in 2012, down from almost half in the early 1970s. In some areas of Britain, including Windsor and Maidenhead, Brighton and East Renfrewshire, around one in three mothers was over 35. The trend is the result of women choosing to concentrate on their careers rather than settling down to have a family.

Carole Hobson became Britain’s oldest mother of twins at 58 after conceiving through IVFat an Indian clinic. After four failed IVF attempts in Ukraine and Cyprus, donor embryos were implanted at a clinic in Mumbai. The single mother, now 61, spent more than £20,000 to have children and twins Frieda and Matthew were born by emergency Caesarean on Christmas Eve 2010. Nine weeks premature and each weighing 3lb 3oz, they spent two months in neo-natal care. The qualified barrister from Kent, said: ‘In Britain we need to be better at providing for women who want to be mothers later in life. It is an indescribable joy, but it’s non-stop – it is like a full-time job.’

Treatment: Miss Hobson, now 61, spent more than £20,000 to have children and twins Frieda and Matthew were born by emergency Caesarean on Christmas Eve 2010
Changing medical advice and advances in IVF treatment also mean more are willing to risk delaying having children. Other women are moving into new relationships later in life and are choosing to have more children with their new partner. Earlier this year Shameless actress Tina Malone gave birth to daughter Flame at the age of 50, after travelling to Cyprus for IVF treatment. In 2007, Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross had twin daughters in 2007 at the age of 44. Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives said: ‘There are an increasing numbers of older women who are having babies and these women tend to have more complications than younger women. ‘This is more pronounced as women have babies at increasingly greater ages. Older mothers are more likely to have increased rates of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies and genetic problems in the child and other issues such high blood pressure, diabetes and problems with the placenta.’ She warned that without more midwives the health service would struggle to cope with the changing patterns of women delaying motherhood. ‘Because of these risks it is crucial that these women get the right level of care, advice and support they need in their pregnancy. ‘Every woman, no matter what her age, deserves the best possible care and this is one of the reasons behind the RCM’s call for more midwives in the NHS.’ The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has warned that those over the age of 40 are up to three times more likely to lose their baby than younger mothers. Their babies also face a greater risk of ill-health or abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome.

Marcia Cross, pitured here in Desperate Housewives, had twin daughters in 2007 at the age of 44
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We know that more older women are giving birth now than 20 years ago and research shows that older women have a higher risk of developing complications during pregnancy and may need more support. That is why we have invested in over 1,500 more midwives since 2010 with another 5,000 in training.‘This will ensure that every mother has a named midwife who is responsible for personalised care.’ Last month a survey found almost three-quarters of people do not think women should receive IVF to help them conceive beyond their natural childbearing years. A quarter believe women should stop trying to bring babies into the world past the age of 40. The survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK found 31 per cent think the current age limit of 42 for IVF on the NHS is too old. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said: ‘The older the mother, the higher the risk of complications. Having a child at such an old age also has implications on the time these mothers will have to enjoying being a grandparent. ‘This doubling of births to over-fifties isn’t something which would have happened naturally, as there’s no way there has been that significant a change in natural menopause in the past five years.’
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Write by: Dj Donk - Monday, March 31, 2014

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