A Brazilian actress got pregnant naturally at age 55 in a 1 in a million situation — and then gave birth to a healthy baby

A Brazilian actress got pregnant naturally at age 55 in a 1 in a million situation — and then gave birth to a healthy baby
  • The Brazilian TV star Cláudia Raia was 56 when she delivered a healthy baby boy, she said.

  • An OB-GYN said the chances of a healthy delivery at that age were below one in a million.

  • Raia had previously tried in vitro fertilization, but it did not work.

A Brazilian actor says she's become one of the oldest women to ever conceive naturally and give birth to a healthy baby. Cláudia Raia was 56 when her son, Luca, was born earlier this month, she said.

Raia thought she was in menopause and had assumed she wouldn't be able to have a child, "Today" reported, citing her interview with the Brazilian journalist Renata Ceribelli. She had tried a round of in vitro fertilization, but it didn't work.


"I looked at God and said, 'OK. I get it. It wasn't meant to be,'" she said.

Then she received a shock when she learned she and her husband, Jarbas Homem de Mello, were expecting, she said. Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, the OB-GYN lead MemorialCare Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California, said the chances of a woman Raia's age delivering a child were "well below" one in a million. In fact, it's so rare that there are no statistics around it, Ruiz told Insider.

"We're never going to see this happen again in our lifetime to somebody else," he said.

Conception and pregnancy in the late 40s and 50s are extremely complex

Most women have entered menopause and stopped ovulating by the time they're 51, Ruiz said. Even before then, fertility declines so steeply that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it's "unlikely" that a woman over 45 will become pregnant naturally.

If Raia did indeed conceive naturally, it would be what's known as a reportable event — a medical outcome so rare that it's studied in medical journals, Ruiz said.

Conceiving is one thing, but continuing to a healthy delivery is even more rare. By 45, there is an 80% chance of miscarriage, usually due to chromosomal abnormalities of the fetus, according to the Mayo Clinic. By 54, the chance of miscarriage would be "approaching 100%," Ruiz said.

The chances of high blood pressure, preeclampsia, placenta issues, and other complications also skyrocket.

"Every known complication of pregnancy is higher for a woman in her 40s, and higher still for a woman in her 50s," Ruiz said.

The oldest mother Ruiz delivered a baby for was 51

Ruiz once cared for a mother who was 51 when she delivered twins. The women got pregnant using donor eggs, but even with that benefit, it was still a difficult pregnancy, Ruiz said. The mother needed to come in for more frequent monitoring and ultrasounds, and she was on bed rest throughout the third trimester.

"It was a lot of work," Ruiz said. "Fortunately, everything went well, and we had a C-section delivery at 38 weeks with two healthy babies."

Most pregnancies at a later age involve donor eggs or a mother's eggs that had been frozen when she was younger, he added.

Elizabeth Sarah Ginsburg, a reproductive endocrinologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told "Today" that some of the best data about pregnancy and age came from the Hutterite community, a group similar to the Amish. People in that community typically don't use contraception or try to limit their family size. But one study found the group never reported a pregnancy where the mother was older than 46.

Ruiz said that while stories like Raia's were attention-grabbing, it's important to keep in mind that they're anomalies.

"Don't be unrealistic to expect a healthy pregnancy or even think you can get pregnant in your 50s," he said. "With the exception of this case, it doesn't happen."

Read the original article on Insider