More women in their 40s becoming mums

SINGAPORE: Many headed overseas for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments, with some using donor eggs, but these women in their mid to late-40s all shared a common desire – to become mothers.

Until recently, women aged 45 and older were not allowed to have IVF treatments in Singapore. But against a backdrop of later marriages, and more couples needing help conceiving, the Government intervened.

From Jan 1 next year, the age limit will be lifted.

It was found that in the nine years from 2010 to 2018, a total of 521 women aged between 45 and 49 gave birth to 563 babies. Some had twins.

This is almost 60% more than the 328 women in the same age group who gave birth to 344 babies in the decade from 2000 to 2009.

From 1990 to 1999, 183 women in that age group bore 187 babies.

These figures, which did not state the mums’ nationalities, were ascertained by compiling the birth registration statistics from 1990 to last year.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) only started keeping birth registration records in 1989.

Dr Ann Tan, medical director of Virtus Fertility Centre, said: “The desire to have their own child is strong and they are relentless in this pursuit – even when they know full well that the odds are stacked against them. They hope to finally achieve pregnancy one day – either with their own egg or a donor egg.”

Doctors interviewed said these women had largely conceived with their husband’s sperm, with either their own or a donor’s eggs.

Older Singaporean mums, they added, tend to head to Thailand and Malaysia, often Johor Baru, to have the IVF treatment and secure egg donors.

While more women aged between 45 and 49 have given birth, they still form a tiny fraction of all mothers.

Fertility specialists say the jump in the number of older women becoming mothers is the result of IVF advancements, its growing use and an increasing acceptance of using donors eggs to get pregnant.

Dr Loh Seong Feei, medical director of Thomson Fertility Centre, said that while more couples are using donor eggs to conceive, it is still a huge psychological barrier for many. — The Straits Times/ANN
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