Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Relative Age-ism

I distinctly remember the phrase, "You know you are old..." floating around during the entire process of my fertility treatments, because in Israel - considered planetary experts on bringing children into the world - any woman over the age of 35 should have decreased expectations regarding a healthy and normal pregnancy.

Now, a joint committee of the Israeli Fertility Association and the Maternal Fetal Medicine has issued a report in which they recommend that any woman over 45 be considered "high-risk" to the extreme, and that these women undergo a whole slew of extra monitoring throughout the pregnancy.  This gamut of testing would specifically target any woman undergoing IVF, but views all such females over the age of 45 as having a higher risk for blood pressure, diabetes and obesity issues, not to mention a statistical increase in multiple births and children with disabilities.  Women over 50 would be further subjected to heart function tests and screening for cancer.

The oldest woman to ever give birth in Israel was a 64 year old, who utilized both egg donation and IVF in 2004, and acted against both Israeli and international policy.

There is a fine line in medicine between facilitation and Big Brother tactics, and the larger question must be debated regarding the role of the hospitals and the government in deciding which women are "allowed" to enter into pregnancy, regardless of potential health risks.

1 comment:

Amy Charles said...

Well...yes. On the other hand, they're right. The risks of both serious chromosomal abnormalities and harm to the woman skyrocket in the 40s. And while nobody can stop you from going out and getting knocked up on your own, I don't see why a doc should be obliged to help you do something risky -- or allowed to -- just because you want to pay for it.

Frankly, having seen post-45-IVF-baby situations go wrong, I'd warn any woman against it. Even if everyone comes out healthy, try being alone, in your 50s, in a bad labor market, with an elementary-age kid to support and raise. The situation's unkind and lonely; odds are that if your parents are still alive, you're helping them rather than the other way around. I'm sure there are Nietzchean supermoms who can do it well, but it's not something I'd recommend. And that's before you get to the part about the near-certainty that the child will be parentless by early middle age, maybe no siblings either.