The advancement in science has brought about better medicines and preventive measures hence improved quality of life leading to higher life expectancy. This has also lead to advancement in assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as In vitro fertilization (IVF) which is helping women of advanced maternal age to conceive however this has a lot of ethical issues to consider.
The aim of this paper is to look at those aged ≥ 60 years who had live births and the ethical issues surrounding these births.
Methods and Materials: This is a retrospective cross-sectional study of cases reports of elderly women who delivered live babies. Journals, newspapers and magazines including on-line media from credible sites reporting women aged ≥60 years who had live babies globally were analyzed. Results: There were 75 elderly women worldwide that had live births ever. Majority (99.7%) of the women were within the youngest old age group ranging from 60-74 years while 96% had IVF with primary infertility without children from either partners seen in 55.6% of cases .
Ethical issues identified include medical health challenges associated with advanced maternal age and those associated with ART which includes: the unnatural means of conception, inequitable access to the intervention due to its high cost, lack of regulatory body, safety of the procedure, and fate of the embryos, surrogacy, sex selection, gamete donation and reproductive tourism. India had the highest number of women consisting of 18.7% of the study population while Nigeria had the highest number in Africa with 5.3% of the women. Ukraine was the most visited country for reproductive tourism, while Switzerland was the county whose women undertook reproductive tourism most.
The ethical considerations regarding child birth in elderly women that is those above 60 years are several and can be biological, social or religious. Legal rules guiding ART vary from country to country. The decision to bear children is a fundamental human reproductive right but the actualization takes critical assessment by competent specialists. There is need for uniform regulations and legislation worldwide to assist these women who were not able to achieve conception at a younger age.