How Old Is Too Old to Become a Parent

Radio Show




It is possible to give birth or adopt in your 40s, 50s, and even 60s, but should you?  What are the health risks for pregnancy with older mothers and what are the psychological and ethical implications for beginning parenthood in your 40s and beyond.  Our guests are Dr. Jeff Ecker, a high risk obstetrician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School; Dr. Julianne Zweifel, a psychologist and professor in the department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; and Dr. Linda Applegarth, the Director of Psychological Services at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility and Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at the New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

+ Highlights of the show (click to expand)

  • What are the medical risks for women over 40 carry a pregnancy to term and giving birth?
  • Are there additional medical risks for women in their 40s and 50s being pregnant?
  • The chances of conceiving naturally or with IVF go down tremendously as a woman ages into her 40s. How do the chances improve if she uses a donor egg or donor embryo in the process?”
  • Do the medical risks change is the pregnancy is achieved with donor egg, which of course is the majority of pregnancies through assisted reproduction when women are in their 40s. Are there additional risks from donor egg pregnancies?
  • Are their greater medical risk for mother and babies when a women is carrying twins and is over 40 or 45?
  • Do you think that women over the age of 45 be mandated to single embryo transfer if they do attempt a pregnancy?
  • How manageable are the health risks to an older mother and her child/children, if they are anticipated in advance?
  • How much do the risk increase as a woman ages?
  • What are the medical risk for a child conceived through sperm of an older father?
  • How common is pregnancy through fertility treatment in woman over the age of 45?
  • It is also possible to adopt in your 40s and 50s. What types of adoption are open to people over 40 or 45 or 50 or 55?
  • Can you adopt domestically a newborn if you are in your 40s or 50s?
  • Can you adopt internationally if you are in your 40s or 50s?
  • Can you adopt from US foster care if you are an older parent?
  • Other than medical risks, what other things should older parents consider before becoming a new parent at 43 or 48 or 53?
  • Is it fair to children to be conceived or adopted by older parents?
  • What are some of the positives about being an older parent?
  • What are some of the negatives about being an older parent?
  • Is the issue the quality of parenting or the possibility of orphaning your kids at a relatively young age or putting the burden of care of elderly parents on a young person. Any research on the quality of parenting?
  • Is there a different ethical discussion involved in adopting at an older age if the child would not have had parents otherwise (e.g., international adoption) or have been given life in the first place (e.g., embryo donation / adoption)?
  • It seems that most discussions about older parents focus on the mother’s age rather than the fathers. In fact, some countries, notably Russia seldom care much about the father’s age. Are there any issues that are gender specific—in other words a bigger deal for mothers of fathers?
  • What are some things older parents should do and prepare for to protect their children?

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Show re-aired in 2018.

21/12/2011 | by Radio Show | Categories: 2011 Shows, Adoption, Adoption Radio Shows, Infertility, Infertility Radio Shows, Radio Show | 2 Comments

2 Responses to How Old Is Too Old to Become a Parent

  1. Avatar MS says:

    This comment may not be read as this show is too old now but I listened to it this morning via the podcast app, and I just have to say that I am very disappointed on Dr Zweifel’s comments regarding parenting after 40 years of age. The creating a family resource network obviously targets an older audience, that hasn’t had the luck that young and fertile couples of the other side of the fence has. Stating that older parents will become a burden to their children in the future and thus delaying their own milestones such as becoming parents themselves at an older age, thus continuing the cycle of generations of forced-mature children, is not only extreme, generalized, but very unfair. What about teens from dysfunctional homes who become parents and their children are at a high risk of being teenage parents? That is a generational cycle that has been proven and nobody sees anything wrong with that? In addition, Dr. Zweifel indicated that all children deserve young parents, is discriminatory and horribly offensive to folks like us who join the creating a family support group. When Dr. Ecker tried to respectfully contradict her she would come back and added additional mean and biased comments about older parents. This is the only show that I have not like, and would encourage Dr. Zweifel To be more sensitive to people who are not as lucky as she is. I say she is lucky because her lack of empathy shows that she definitely hasn’t been in our shoes

    • Avatar Elizabeth Murphy says:

      I very much agree with you. As someone who is a foster child, I often heard how unwanted children would be better off aborted. As an “unwanted” (man, not God) child, this argument always infuriated me. Who is a stranger to argue whether or not I should have been born. My answer is to let me make that choice. If life is so unbearable with my background, I can chose whether or not to live. Not some armchair ethicist who feels she can determine the value of the existence of a human being based on ideal vs ideal circumstances. And yes, she certainly would be determining the existence of a person if people follow her train of thought. Many of these children would not be born, period, if parents follow her logic. It doesn’t stop there, though, it would likely determine not only the child’s life, but the lives of 1000s of descendants.
      Any Christian or Jewish ethicist should consider that God certainly has willed that some people have children at an older age. For whatever reason, considering, at times,an older age to be preferable to a younger age. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55: 8. This was even true for John the Baptist whose parents would have lived a comparable lifespan to us today.
      To say some people shouldn’t exist because of less than ideal circumstances, is a slippery slope that could easily turn into an argument against the existence of so, so many people in less than ideal circumstances. It seems so American, too (and I love America). My guess is that many people in poverty stricken countries, with very little opportunity for education and advancement, might much rather choose parents who are older than to be born with such limited circumstances. I, for one, would have traded my young, abusive parents, for older, loving parents in a New York minute. The examples could go on and on.

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