Over 100 women in their 50s gave birth in 2009, an increase of 55% on 2008’s figures, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The new ONS report shows 107 women over 50 gave birth last year, 14 of which were over the age of 55. Also one in five babies in England and Wales were born to women over the age of 35 in 2009.
As fertility tends to decrease with age, a lot of new mums in their 50s will have undergone fertility treatment, in order to have a child.
Under the NHS, women over 39 can’t be given any fertility treatment. However, private fertility clinics can use their discretion. Many of these private clinics stop providing treatment once a women reaches 50.
In the past four years the Bridge Centre in London has treated 30 women over the age of 50. Of those, 15 have gone on to give birth and one is expecting.
Kamal Ahuja, the clinic’s director, said the decision to treat women over 50 is based on the woman’s overall health, the age of the father, their financial security and whether they have an extended family to help with the child’s upbringing.
Mums in their 50s have been criticised for putting their own desires for having a child above the child’s overall welfare needs. But older mums say they have more time and patience, than if they were in their 20s.
“More women are now coming forward for treatment in their late 40s and early 50s due to the increase in general fitness. Many women do look after themselves extremely well. Fifty now is not what 50 was,” said Simon Thornton, group medical director of a chain of fertility clinics called Care Fertility.