Birth at 60 was exceptional, but not a miracle

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The Independent Online
So the textbooks of female fertility may not have to be re-written after all. The miracle birth to Welsh pensioner Elizabeth Buttle, who claimed to be the world's oldest "natural" mother at 60, turns out to have been - well, just exceptional.

It emerged yesterday that Mrs Buttle, a farm-owner of Cwmann, Lampeter, had apparently visited London for fertility treatment, telling her family she was going for a throat operation. She had earlier dismissed rumours that she had received treatment as "malicious gossip" and attributed her achievement to the "clean country air".

The London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre in Harley Street, where she was allegedly treated, announced yesterday that it was reviewing its procedures in light of the disclosure and suggested all other clinics should do likewise. The clinic refused to confirm or deny whether Mrs Buttle had been treated there but admitted staff had no way of confirming a potential patient's age or background.

Mrs Buttle was apparently recognised by a member of staff at the clinic after pictures appeared in the News of the World, which is said to have paid pounds 100,000 for her story. The Daily Express reported that a woman named Tracy Ann Williams who gave Mrs Buttle's address in Wales and claimed to be 49, had been treated at the clinic. The paper said checks of electoral records showed no woman of that name had lived at the address.

Mrs Buttle, who had been having an affair with Peter Rawstron, 58, a married man who lived nearby, had her baby at the West Wales Hospital in Carmarthen last November. She told staff there that she was 54 but her birth certificate showed her birth date was 10 February 1937. She later told relatives that the baby was conceived on the night of her 60th birthday.

Obstetricians last week said that a natural birth to a woman of 54 would be exceptional but to one of 60 it would be miraculous.

- Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor