Good old mum: The oldest mothers in the world 48



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Recently, a Sussex woman was notified by maternity hospital letter that she was pregnant. It came as a complete surprise.

Yes, of course, many women have been surprised by the news that they are pregnant but it was even more of a surprise for Doris Ayling. She is 99, almost 100.

It was certainly an equally big surprise to her three children, seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. A spokesman for Fareham Community Hospital apologised, explaining that it was an “administrative error”.

“I was a bit amused by it all. I’ve never been to the Portsmouth hospitals and I don’t know where Fareham hospital is. It’s a complete mystery to me how I got this letter. I had three children when I was 20, 23 and 29,” Doris said adding, just in case anybody was in any doubt, “That was enough”.

The oldest woman alleged to have given birth is a 70 year old in India but her claim is not officially accepted as she cannot produce a genuine birth certificate which may be understandable given the circumstances of her birth when birth certificates for the rural poor were very few and far between.

The oldest verified mother – a mother whose birth certificate was confirmed on the day she gave birth – was a Spanish woman, Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, who gave birth to twin boys on December 12, 2006 when she was 66 years and 358 days old. The babies were born by caesarean section, were delivered prematurely, each weighed 1.6 kilos and they were conceived through IVF with donor eggs.

When her own family criticised her decision to have children at that age – and she admitted to lying about her age to undergo the treatment in the USA -, she defended it, saying, “Everyone has the right to have children at the right time for them. This was the right time for me. It was something I always dreamed of.”

She said that her own mother had reached the age of 101 and that she expected a “good chance” to bring up her children and even see her grandchildren.

Sadly, Ms Bousada died in July 2009 of ovarian cancer when her boys were two and a half.

Recently, Annegret Raunigk gave birth to quadruplets – three boys and a girl – in a Berlin hospital at the age of 65. The single mother, who already has seven grandchildren, defended her decision saying that her 10 year old daughter Lelia wanted another sibling. Her newest children are younger than her grandchildren.

She believes that she will stay fit and healthy and fully able to raise the children adding, “I don’t interfere in other people’s lives and I expect the same from others”.

Once, cases of woman over the age of 50 having babies were extremely rare. However, advances in assisted reproductive technology – in particular egg donation – have seen many over 50 mothers. Judy Bershak, an American woman, was the first recorded older mother who conceived via IVF with oocytes donation. She gave birth to a daughter at the age of 50 in July, 1996.

Perhaps it is not appropriate for a man to be critical of older women who want to have a baby and who will go to any lengths to have one but it does open up ethical questions about the ultimate fairness to a child who will probably not grow up to know and love his or her mother. The same thing can be said for older men who become fathers.

An Indian farmer, Ramjeet Raghav, became the world’s oldest dad in October, 2012, at the age of 96 – beating his own record he had set two years earlier when he was 94. His wife, Shakuntala, was 54 the second time she became a mum.

Proud dad said, “What can I do? This is all God’s wish. He wanted me to have another son. I do it three or four times a night. My neighbours are jealous and they keep asking me for my secret but all I tell them is that it is God’s will. I’m healthy and I enjoy sex with my wife. I think it’s very important for a husband and wife to have sex regularly. When she asks I will go on all night but for the sake of my child I’ve put our needs aside for now,” he said.

He told The Times of India that he had been a bachelor and practiced celibacy until he met his wife when he was 86. I suppose since he had saved himself up for nearly 70 years, he had a lot of catching up to do.

Since then his wife has left him – maybe when she married an old man she was hoping for a quiet life and not doing the deed three or four times a night.

Still, every man on the planet would probably envy Ramjeet’s prowess while feeling sad about his personal domestic situation.


Tell us, how old is too old to bear a child? 


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Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. what a mind boggling read, I think you need to give your children every chance in life and being in your 60’s and 70’s when you have a child is not giving them the basic right of having a mum and dad while they are still in school, yes some may live longer than that but it is to big a risk for me. And when I got to the part about 94 year old Ramjeet Raghav having sex 3 times a night, I felt very sorry for his wife, I can understand why she left him, that would wear you out at very fast rate

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  2. Oh dear me, I must have led a sheltered life, old age and having babies is not a good idea, there is a reason we go through menopause when we do, we becoming to old to cope with small toddlers and children of our own. Grandparenting is a much softer option. And as for 94 bloke, his wife should have tied a knot in it

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  3. where does the old bloke get the energy to be doing the dirty dance 3 times a night? Once a year at his age would probably kill me

  4. Tee Hee, the start of the story is funny. I just hope that the real recipient of the letter didn’t get one saying she was senile. !!!

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  5. One would think that commonsense would have dictated the time to cease bringing children into the world. That said who am I to tell a woman when she should turn away from her maternal instincts. I don’t see any reason for a man in his nineties not to continue to have a healthy sex life. I intend to as long as the two people who will have to lift me up and down don’t get embarrassed.

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  6. Oh dear me. We enjoy every minute we have our grandchildren, as for having a baby at our age i feel it would be very unfair to the child . They need to have a mum & dad around for many,many years. I just love being a nana & look forward to being a great nana when the time comes. I do wonder if it’s a correct story.

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    • I didn’t make it up Chris – google the details if you like

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