An Indian woman named Erramatti Mangayamma has seemingly made history by becoming the oldest new mother ever documented. Her doctors reported that Mangayamma, said to be either 73- or 74-years-old, delivered a set of healthy twin girls via cesarean section Thursday. The feat was made possible through in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
According to CNN, Mangayamma and her long-time husband, Sitarama Rajarao, had wanted children for decades but were never able to conceive. In the fall of 2018, they reached out to the fertility clinic Ahalya IVF. Mangayamma was deemed healthy enough for the procedure, so she was given one round of the treatment.
While IVF can be used to fertilize even frozen eggs belonging to the mother, Mangayamma had obviously gone through menopause already; instead, a donor egg was fertilized with her husband’s sperm. Her age, as well as the fact that she conceived twins, made natural delivery too risky. So her doctors opted for a c-section. Despite the unusualness of it all, though, the births seemed to go off without a hitch.
“The surgery went well ... the mother and the babies are all healthy with no complications,” Sanakayyala Uma Shankar, the director of Ahalya IVF and one of the surgeons who performed the C-section, told CNN.
It’s a bit in question as to how historic Mangayamma’s delivery actually is. Some media outlets have reported her age as 73, while the Washington Post reported Friday that Shankar was shown a birth certificate from Mangayamma showing that she is 74. Similarly, Rajarao’s age has been reported as anywhere from 78 to 82.
Assuming either age is true, Mangayamma would be the oldest new mother by a slim margin. In 2016, it was reported that Daljinder Kaur had given birth at age 72, though her age was never verified. There have been at least two other reports of 70-year-old women giving birth as well. All of these cases have occurred in India, where regulations around who can get IVF are less stringent.
Shankar told CNN that Mangayamma is “looking forward to the next chapter of her life with the kids.”
Heartening as that sounds, the track history of these older births is sometimes, perhaps predictably, tragic. In 2009, 66-year-old Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara became the then-oldest mother of twin boys, having lied about her age in order to get fertility treatment in the U.S. She was diagnosed with cancer soon after, possibly as a result of her treatment, and died before her sons’ third birthday (both were reported to be placed in the care of extended family).
As for Mangayamma, she’ll be monitored for the next three weeks. And her daughters will be fed donor breast milk, as Mangayamma can no longer produce her own.