Joy of Scotland's oldest mother, aged 50

LIKE most childless women approaching 50, Juliet Le Page thought she was too old to become a mother. She had always concentrated on her career and, as she entered her late forties, had almost given up hope.

But after having her second child last week, Mrs Le Page officially became the oldest woman in Scotland to give birth – aged 50 and one day.

"I'm absolutely thrilled and tremendously happy," she said as she cradled tiny Julia Kitty Rose, who had been born following a Caesarean section.

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Mrs Le Page would have known the dangers of having a child aged 50 better than most, as she runs her own business as a fertility adviser.

She said: "Normally, I would not recommend women having children later in life. I knew the risks, but sometimes circumstances dictate and you just have to do it. Yes, I will be 70 when Julia is 20, but in life you just don't know what is around the next corner and we wanted to do it."

Mrs Le Page moved to Edinburgh from Yorkshire in 1989 and later met her second husband Richard, 41, an investment manager.

She said: "I didn't think I would ever have children. I just never saw myself as a mum. But then in 2002 I met Richard and was with this wonderful man and I wanted to have a child."

Mrs Le Page advertised for an egg donor in the local newspaper and, after finding one, underwent fertility treatment in late 2005. Then in 2006, aged 47, she gave birth to her first child, Rafe.

She said: "We wanted to give Rafe a little brother or sister to play and to grow up with. Rafe is very taken with her. They are very funny; now when she cries, he does, too.

"Things are absolutely wonderful, the baby is fine and it was a very healthy pregnancy."

Mrs Le Page admitted that she had been concerned when the couple were considering having another child.

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She said: "Of course, we thought about the age difference and whether we would see our children go to university, or have children of their own, but we decided to go for it. Richard is nine years younger than me, and that made the decision easier.

"Also, as you get older, you don't feel any different and I think, in 20 years' time, I will still feel as young as I do now. People are now living older and living healthier."

Mrs Le Page said that her business, Fertility Concerns – which she established after switching from being a physiotherapist – had helped her through her pregnancy. "I knew how important it was to take care of myself, give up caffeine, alcohol, and have regular acupuncture and reflexology.

"But I was also extremely lucky. To have two children from egg donors at the first time of trying is almost unheard of, so we are delighted. It is also not cheap – even on the NHS it is about 3,000 a cycle. But in the end, it all went smoothly and I couldn't be happier."

Her husband said: "I'm so proud of my wife and obviously delighted that both my wife and new baby girl are both healthy; that is the main thing.

"I don't really think of Juliet as any different to any other mother who has decided to have children later in life. The 'oldest mother in Scotland' label is not important to us. What is important is having a healthy family."

More women leave it late despite health risks

THE proportion of women in the UK having children in their forties is the highest it has been in decades.

Fertility rates for women aged 30 and over has gradually increased since 1980, with more women having children between 30 and 34 than those aged 25-29 since 2002.

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Belinda Phipps, the chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, attributes the rise to factors such as women prioritising a career, but says waiting increases health risks.

She said: "We have seen that women are having children later in life, but ultimately it's not healthy for older women to have children. When women get into their forties there are increased risks.

"Basically, the older the eggs the more chance there is of the child developing genetic disorders, such as Down's Syndrome, or other genetic diseases.

"If the woman is unhealthy, then it is certainly not recommended, as there is more chance of the developing diseases such as diabetes."

Last year, there were 57,781 children born in Scotland – an increase of 3.8 per cent on 2006 and 12.7 per cent more than 2002. In fact, the number of children born has increased every since 2002.

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