65-year-old pregnant with quadruplets in Germany

65-year-old pregnant with quadruplets in Germany

A 65 year-old woman is currently carrying quadruplets after undergoing IVF. At her advanced age, she and the babies face numerous risks that make obstetricians all over the world concerned and upset.


65-year old pregnant

Giving birth is hard at any age. But is it safe at 65?

A 65-year-old primary school teacher has caused an international uproar after intentionally impregnating herself so that her youngest daughter could be an older sister. Already a mother of 13, Annegret Raunigk, underwent In vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant as she is currently single and in menopause.

Raunigk is the oldest mother to give birth and conceive naturally in Germany at the age of 55 and has been reported to have basically raised almost all of her children alone.

65 year-old pregnant

IVF has its own risks.

IVF: Illegal for her age in Germany, perfectly fine in Ukraine

The journey to this point wasn’t easy for Raunigk. Germany does not allow women of Raugnik’s age to undergo IVF treatments, especially if they would need donor eggs and sperm to conceive.

According to reports, these restrictions are what prompted Raunigk to go to Ukraine where a lot of women who want to get pregnant go for IVF. While there, Raunigk received both eggs and sperm along with an undisclosed number of hormone treatments in order to conceive.

But why did she have quadruplets? Due to her age and slim chances of her getting pregnant, doctors used four eggs for her IVF treatment. They never expected all four to be fertilized. Initially, Raunigk considered keeping one baby and putting the others up for adoption but has since changed her mind.

International uproar

Not only have German medical professionals called Raunigk irresponsible and unwise, but State politician Karl Lauterbach made it a point to make an example of Raunigk by announcing that her case should not be an aspiration for any woman to follow.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, founding head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, called Raunigk’s actions unethical and sees her pregnancy as a publicity stunt to gain attention, fame and revenue by willfully undertaking a risky pregnancy.

“The fact that IVF is illegal in Germany for women her age should have been indication of the risk and danger that she can face with such a procedure,” says Dr. Caplan.

Raunigk, on the other hand, dismissed her critics by saying that no one can dictate what she can and cannot do at 65 years old and that people should stop interfering with her life.

Click ‘Continue Reading’ to see what health risks Annegret Raugnik may be facing.

65 year-old pregnant

Annegret Raunigk, carrying quadruplets. Photo from The Guardian

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. Holger Stepan, head of Obstetrics at the University of Leipzig, shared that the body of a 65-year-old woman is not equipped to handle pregnancy, much less carry four babies full term.

Most triplets and quadruplets are born 11 weeks early, according to statistics, so it’s quite possible that Raunigk’s babies won’t reach full term. Furthermore, she risks facing one of these distressing health risks:

  • High blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. Since menopausal women usually have high blood pressure, it’s easier to develop chronic hypertension that can result in pre-eclampsia symptoms.
  • Pregnancy diabetes. Developing diabetes during pregnancy can translate to a difficult birth and lots of risk to the infant during and just after birth.
  • Preeclampsia. One of the most feared pregnancy complications, this can happen at 20 weeks of gestation and can put both the mother and child at risk. The only cure for this condition is delivery of the baby. If Raunigk acquires this, she might have to choose between her life and the babies’ especially if it’s too early to birth them.

The risks above simply outline the pregnancy complications a woman on menopause faces, and does not include the risks that IVF brings about which are miscarriage, low birth placenta, pre-term labor and ectopic pregnancy.

65 year-old pregnant

The quadruplets face risks on all fronts.

Children at risk inside the womb

Aside from her own health, Raunigk’s quadruplets – having been conceived through IVF – face health risks of their own:

  • Pre-term birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Being stillborn
  • Cerebral bleeding
  • Paralysis
  • Optical and olfactory problems

In order to prevent complications and premature labor, Raunigk was informed that she may have to be admitted into a hospital earlier than her August due date. Also, while critical of the doctors in Ukraine who enabled the multiple pregnancy,Raunigk’s gynaecologist said that the 65-year-old’s “prevailing positive psychological mood” would contribute much to the pregnancy’s outcome.

Update as of May 25, 2015: According to reports, Annegret Raunigk has given birth to healthy quadruplets via c-section, 3 months earlier than they were due. Annegret has three boys named Dries, Bence and Fjonn, and one girl named Neeta. The babies weigh between one pound and seven ounces and two pounds and two ounces.

Although it’s been reported that the four newborns stand a “strong chance of survival”, they are still susceptible to complications as they were born premature.

What do you think of getting pregnant at such an age? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!


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