A 57-year-old woman is believed to have become Australia's oldest mother after giving birth to twins in a Perth hospital last week.
The woman, who is reportedly from India, delivered the babies by caesarean at the King Edward Memorial Hospital after receiving IVF treatment with donated eggs in India. The case, which was reported by the Perth Sunday Times, is likely to reignite debate about suitable age limits for women seeking fertility assistance. In Australia, few over-50s undergo IVF treatment because of the low success rate in women over 44.
Andrew Pesce, president of the Australian Medical Association, told the Sunday Times: "Certainly this case raises very significant issues. If you were a good doctor counselling a patient, you would make sure the patient understood the implications of having a child at that age ... We live in a society which values individual choice."
The world's oldest mother is believed to be Okari Panwar, from India, who gave birth to a twin boy and girl last year.
She claimed to be 70, but had no birth certificate. A Spaniard, Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara, who had twin boys at the age of 66 in 2006, died of cancer last year, leaving her family to bring up her children.
The woman who gave birth in Perth reportedly spent all of her pregnancy in Western Australia, accompanied by a man believed to be her husband.
As of 2007, the oldest woman recorded as giving birth in Australia was 56, according to the National Perinatal Data Collection. She received IVF treatment at a Queensland clinic.
Peter Burton, scientific director of the Concept Fertility Centre in Perth, said many Australian women were travelling to South Africa and India for IVF treatment because of a shortage of egg donors in Australia. He said that while there were no age restrictions in WA, some fertility centres in the state set a cut-off age of 45.