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Woman says critics of her IVF treatment - at 57 - were right

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When Susan Tollefsen conceived her daughter through in vitro fertilization in 2008, the then-57-year-old British woman was widely criticized for being too old to have a child.

Now faced with the challenges of raising a three-year-old alone at the age of 61, Ms. Tollefsen tells the Daily Mail her critics were right. She now agrees there should be an age limit of 50 for women seeking IVF treatment.

Ms. Tollefsen had previously defended her decision, arguing that her partner, who is 11 years younger, would be able to care for their daughter Freya throughout her childhood, the Daily Mail reports. However, the couple has since separated. Ms. Tollefsen suffers from health problems, including being deaf in one ear and having a replaced knee.

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"If I'm completely honest, my experience has taught me that 50 should probably be the cut-off limit for having children, but until you have them it's almost impossible to appreciate that," she tells the newspaper, although she says having a child is the best thing she's done in her life. "It's so true that you only learn by your own mistakes, and my mistake was not to have had her sooner."

While government guidelines recommend that doctors refuse IVF treatment for women over 40 in Britain, Ms. Tollefsen received treatment in Russia, using a donor egg and her partner's sperm.

As a pensioner, Ms. Tollefsen says she feels the generation gap between herself and the much younger parents of her daughter's peers.

She also says parenthood has contributed to her split with her partner: "I realize that we didn't communicate well. That wasn't a problem when we only had ourselves to consider, but it became an ever-widening gap after Freya was born."

With the help of fertility treatments, women around the world are able to give birth at increasingly older ages, but not without serious risks.

In 2008, 70-year-old Rajo Devi Lohan gave birth to her first child in India, only to reveal 18 months later that she was dying and unable to lift her young daughter.

How old is too old to receive fertility treatments?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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