Donor eggs are helping more women over 50 to be moms.
It is becoming more common for women who are fifty years old or older to decide they want to have a baby. Sometimes the circumstances involve second or late marriages. More often, it is single women coming forward for donor egg and donor sperm because adoption options for them are limited.
Although women over age 50 who become pregnant with donor eggs have a higher risk for developing obstetrical complications, their complication rates compared to those of younger recipients is similar. The study from Columbia University, showed results that were surprisingly good. Older recipients had statistically similar rates of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (23% versus 14%), gestational diabetes and preterm labor.
During the study, participants were carefully screened medically prior to conception. More than 100 women aged 50+ who achieved a viable pregnancy were followed and their outcomes were compared with a group of women younger than 42 who also had a baby.
The resulting baby outcomes were excellent and similar between both age groups. Since much of the research has shown that in pregnant women over 45 years old, obstetrical complications are significantly increased, we need more research on this subject.
Currently many centers have set age limits. In response to new information, the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has recently issued new guidelines for egg recipients.
Twins dramatically increase risks for women over 50.
A multiple pregnancy dramatically adds to the risks. In the guidelines, transferring no more than a single embryo is strongly suggested after using donor eggs. In our center, we insist upon it for women over fifty. It makes achieving the goal of pregnancy potentially take a little longer and cost more. However, understanding the cost of two babies in the NICU for days or weeks, not to mention the long-term risks of premature babies, usually leads to concurrence among the recipients.
In view of the lack of data regarding maternal and fetal safety, the committee recommends”discouraging” using donor eggs after fifty-five years of age. This seems to us to be a reasonable guideline.
Beyond that, the next issue the committee at ASRM says clinics need to address is the concept that clinics should only treat “healthy” women over fifty. One question to be answered in consideration of this is whether “healthy” includes mild diabetes or hypertension under control with medication? Insisting on a consultation with a perinatologist, a doctor concerned with complicated, high-risk pregnancies, can help potential Mom’s to be learn more about the risks to herself and her baby.
Contact us if you would like to explore using donor eggs.