A 74-year-old woman may have just become the oldest person in the world to give birth. On Thursday, Mangayamma Yaramati of Andhra Pradesh in India welcomed twins, as in, not one but two baby girls. She also produced a birth certificate, according to the Washington Post, corroborating her claim to this advanced age: Some outlets have erroneously described her as being 73 years old, which would still make her highly remarkable, but as it stands, she is one year more remarkable than initially reported.
“The mother and the babies are doing well,” Yaramati’s doctor, Sankkayala Uma Shankar, told the BBC. The new father, 82-year-old Sitarama Rajarao, reportedly had a stroke the next day, and is being treated at the hospital. Still, three hours after the birth, he told the BBC he and Yaramati were “incredibly happy.”
“We tried many times and saw many doctors, so this is the happiest time of my life,” Yaramati said. In her village, she added, her neighbors singled her out for being “a childless lady” because she and her husband could not conceive on their own. They ended up doing IVF, fertilizing a donor egg with Rajarao’s sperm, and implanting it in Yaramati’s uterus. The twins were born via cesarean section.
Reports vary as to the babies’ weights — the Post says they are 2.2 pounds each, while Newsweek says each weighed about 4.4 pounds — but regardless, pregnancies this late in life are exceedingly rare. In 2017, an Indian woman believed (but not confirmed) to be 72 years old gave birth to a healthy boy, and in 2006, a 66-year-old woman in Spain had twins.
As the Post reports, it’s aging eggs — not an aging uterus — that affect fertility, and IVF helps circumvent that problem. Still, the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine warns against this extreme degree of geriatric pregnancy (a geriatric pregnancy being, brace yourself, a pregnancy that occurs after the age of 35). The committee believes the risks are higher — both for the mother’s health, and the child’s future, if there’s no support system in place to provide for its care further down the line.
In any case, this is almost the most unusual birthing tale we’ve heard yet. Almost!