Should Diabetes Risk Keep Older Women From Giving Birth?

In the controversy that erupted when the world found out that a 63 year old woman was on her seventh month pregnancy after using IVF to conceive. Although giving birth by women over 50 has increased 24 times over in the last few years, many doctors and laypersons protest, claiming that it is not safe for mother or baby.

The National Health Service currently refuses free IVF treatment to women over 39, forcing would-be mothers over that age to pay for private treatment. However, the HFEA figures reveal that doctors are not adhering to an “unofficial” guideline to refuse treatment to women over the age of 49. The guideline is intended to limit the potential health risks to mother and child.

Amid mounting concern that IVF is being used to extend fertility beyond the limits of what is ethically acceptable, a leading expert yesterday called on the HFEA, which currently allows clinicians to decide on eligibility for IVF, to set an age limit for those who want the treatment.

Also, there is an increased risk of deadly complications such as heart attacks and diabetes, but is this a reason for a woman to give up the dream of motherhood, even if it is ‘late’ in life? Don’t potential complications exist for every birth, regardless of age? (Childbirth is still one of the leading worldwide causes of women’s deaths.) What do you think? Does potential reward outweigh the potential risk?

The effect of diabetes on the severity of illness and risk of death for patients with heart failure is much worse in women than men, the effect being more pronounced in older women (over age 65). Diabetes was associated with a significant increase in the risk of death and hospitalization in patients with heart failure. Women over age 65 had worse outcomes than men or younger women.

That’s what the new research at University of Alabama at Birmingham (led by Ali Ahmed, M.D., MPH, associate professor in the division of gerontology, geriatrics and palliative care and director of UAB’s Geriatric Heart Failure Clinic and Geriatric Heart Failure Research) is telling us: “Our results suggest that heart failure patients should be thoroughly evaluated for the presence of diabetes and if it is present, should be intensively managed based on published guidelines. Further studies should test current interventions and develop new ones to reduce the adverse effects of diabetes in heart failure patients in general, and among older adults in particular.”

Another one is that the death rate of men with diabetes has dropped significantly (in line with the overall decline of the death rate for all Americans), while the death rate for women with diabetes did not decline at all.

The author writes about berberine and blogs at


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