A pregnant woman.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Haya Shahar, a 65-year-old hassidic woman from Bnei Brak who was unable to have a baby during her 46-year marriage to 67-year-old Shmuel, gave birth on Monday to a healthy baby boy by cesarean section at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
It made her the oldest woman in Israel to give birth – not far behind the world record holder, Spain’s Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, who was a few days shy of 67 when she gave birth to twins.
Shahar’s 2.68-kg. baby was produced by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with donated or purchased sperm – the hospital would not disclose exactly, although it might have been from Russia. It is illegal in Israel to perform IVF on a woman over 54.
“We do not recommend this,” emphasized Dr. Tal Biron, an obstetrician/ gynecologist at the Kfar Saba hospital.
“It is illegal to perform in-vitro fertilization on a woman of this age, and it is dangerous,” she explained. “There are many possible complications. Pregnancy is an unnecessary burden on the mother’s body.”
But Biron added that “we were very excited during the delivery. I have no doubt she will be an excellent mother. She is a very special person. The baby is very cute.”
The risk of pregnancy complications increases as the mother’s age increases. Risks connected with childbearing over the age of 50 include an increased incidence of gestational diabetes, hypertension, delivery by cesarean section, miscarriage, preeclampsia and placenta previa (placenta too low in the uterus).
In comparison to mothers between 20 and 29 years of age, mothers over 50 are at almost three times the risk of low birth weight, premature birth and extremely premature birth. Their risk of extremely low birth weight, small size for gestational age and fetal mortality is almost double.
The Shahars, who were extremely grateful to hospital doctors and nurses, credited their rabbi’s blessing three years ago for the success of the pregnancy.
Biron said Haya Shahar presented herself at her department during her 12th week of pregnancy and visited the high-risk pregnancy outpatient clinic weekly, with no need for a long hospitalization.
“She underwent ultrasound scans and all other necessary tests,” Biron said. “She always cooperated and never complained. Her message to Israel after the operation was ‘Never give up.’”