British woman pregnant at age 63

A controversial fertility doctor defended his decision to treat a woman set to become Britain's oldest mother at the age of 63.

Professor Severino Antinori said he was "delighted" he had been able to help child psychiatrist Dr Patricia Rashbrook become pregnant and that she and her 61-year-old academic husband John Farrant would be "perfect" parents.

The Italian expert revealed that she had fertility treatment in Russia because of the availability there of egg donors with similar physical characteristics to Britons.

Pro-life groups branded Dr Rashbrook "selfish" for having a child at such an advanced stage in her life but she said a "great deal of thought" had gone into the pregnancy, informs Guardian Unlimited.

Prof Antinori, who runs a private fertility clinic in Rome, made headlines in 1994 by helping a post-menopausal 63-year-old woman become pregnant with donor eggs and hormones.

The couple contacted him more than two years ago and underwent a series of consultations before flying to the unnamed clinic in Russia for the egg implantation procedure.

The Italian fertility doctor spoke today of his "delight and honour" at helping Dr Rashbrook have children and revealed that the treatment cost just  7,000.

He said: "It worked first time - one donor egg was fertilised straight away, the embryo implanted and she fell pregnant. I am delighted because sometimes it can take many attempts, reports ITV.

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, head of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Aberdeen University, said older mothers were more likely to have health problems such as diabetes and hypertension.

"It is sometimes difficult for someone who really wants a baby to be objective about the situation," he said.

"If you ask them to give a bit of their health away to have a baby many are willing to do that."

The British Fertility Society wished Dr Rashbrook well with her pregnancy.

But a spokesman added: "We have serious concerns about the infertility treatment of women over 50, particularly because of the increased health risks to the mother and welfare of the child that results," according to Scotsman.

O.Ch.