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Unique genetic profile helps over-45s conceive naturally

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Sunday, November 24, 2013 | 0 comments

Image: Wall Jerusalem, by Karen Desuyo, on Flickr
Copenhagen, Denmark: Women who have a special genetic profile can conceive spontaneously after the age of 45 years, a scientist said at the 21st annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today (Tuesday 21 June 2005).

Dr. Neri Laufer, from the Haddassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel, told the conference that his team's work to identify a specific gene expression profile linked to later fertility would help understanding of the aging process, as well as enabling the development of better treatments for infertility in older patients.

Dr. Laufer and colleagues studied a large group of 250 women over 45 who conceived spontaneously. Women are generally not fertile after this age due to ageing of the ovaries, so the scientists thought that there might be some special factor that was allowing these women to conceive.

"Mostly they had had a large number of children and also a low miscarriage rate", he said "and these two factors indicated to us that they had a natural ability to escape the aging process of the ovaries. We decided to see if we could find any differences in gene expression between 8 such women and another 6 women of the same age group who had finished their families at the age of 30."

Using gene chip technology, the scientists found that blood samples from the 8 women had a unique pattern of gene expression that did not exist in the control group. The two main groups of genes expressed in these women were involved in apoptosis (cell death) and in DNA repair mechanisms.

"These women appear to differ from the normal population due to a unique genetic predisposition that protects them from the DNA damage and cellular ageing that helps age the ovary", said Dr. Laufer. "What we do not yet know is whether this reproductive success is linked with potential longevity."

The women were all Ashkenazi Jews but Dr. Laufer's team does not believe that the gene profile is unique to this group. "We already have preliminary results demonstrating similar results from another group", he said. The team intends to study women from different ethnic, and hence genetic, groups and study their genetic fingerprints against those of the first group.

Identifying women with these genetic fingerprints will enable doctors to know which women are still fertile at an advanced age and may determine the counselling they require, said Dr.Laufer.

"However, the question of motherhood over the age of 45 is a delicate and complex one. It is very dependent on the religious and cultural background of the women in question. Our first study group came from an ultra-religious sector which encourages natural conception and discourages contraceptive use. These women would in any event continue to challenge their reproductive system until menopause. But for other groups the ethical implications may be different and counseling on all the aspects of late motherhood will play an important part in determining what is best for the individual woman."


Stock Photo credit: Wall Jerusalem
by Karen Desuyo, on Flickr

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Image: Who Else Wants to Have a Baby over 40? The Keys to Pregnancy Over 40, by Deborah Lynn WhiteWho Else Wants to Have a Baby over 40?
by Deborah Lynn White

-- Are you afraid you might never be able to have a baby? I was, especially after losing my first baby at age 44 to a miscarriage.

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You want a baby of your own. You have spent years in your career and now realize you need to try to have a baby NOW.

Maybe you thought you would meet and marry the right man and then have kids. You never found him and now you’re over 40. He never showed up.

Lots of other women over 40 have gotten pregnant – you can too! This is not a story about extreme trauma and loss but one of perseverance and hope. I have not been through IVF or anything more invasive than IUI.

I don’t have a story of extreme devastation to tell. I had heartache and miscarriage, but got pregnant and had a healthy baby at 45.

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More "Pregnancy Over 40" blogs to visit:
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Stories of Pregnancy and Birth over 44 - sharing news stories I find online, for inspiration!

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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