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Woman, 52, Gives Birth to In-Vitro Baby : Ventura: Jonie Mosby Mitchell is believed to be the oldest American to have a child through the fertilization process.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 52-year-old Ventura woman and her newborn baby boy were expected to come home today after making history at a Los Angeles hospital.

Jonie Mosby Mitchell, who gave birth Tuesday to 7-pound, 19-inch Morgan Bradford Mitchell, is believed to be the oldest woman in the United States to have a child through in-vitro fertilization.

In-vitro fertilization is a process by which an egg and sperm are combined in a laboratory and incubated. The resulting embryo is then implanted in a woman’s uterus.

“As far as we know, she is the oldest woman in the United States to have in-vitro fertilization and the third-oldest in the world to undergo the process,” said Sara Kaufman, spokeswoman for the Hospital of the Good Samaritan in Los Angeles, which works with County-USC Medical Center on in-vitro fertilization. A 54-year-old Italian woman is the oldest in the world, Kaufman said.

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Mitchell, who has entered menopause, received a donor egg from a 30-year-old woman. The egg was then fertilized by Mitchell’s husband, Donnie.

“It was a real easy delivery,” Mitchell said, adding that her labor pains were eased by a local anesthetic.

“In between pushing we were laughing and having a good time,” said Mitchell, whose husband attended the delivery. “I felt guilty.”

Mitchell gave birth to four children during her first marriage, and she and her current husband adopted a child four years ago. She said she didn’t want to adopt again because adoption officials have too much control over the process.

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The in-vitro process “put me in total control,” she said. “It was so easy. I knew I could do it.”

Scientists are still studying the health risks incurred by pregnant women in their 50s, said endocrinologist Mark Sauer, who implanted the embryo in Mitchell’s uterus at USC. The cost of the implant is about $10,000.

Of 10 women in their 50s who have participated in the USC program, he said, four have become pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, including Mitchell. Three of the four delivered successfully.

To sustain her pregnancy, Mitchell received hormone supplements for 100 days, hospital officials said. Mitchell said she is able to nurse the baby but does not plan to do so.

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Mitchell’s obstetrician and gynecologist, Kathryn Shaw, said Mitchell’s history of easy deliveries prepared her for the latest birth. “It went very well,” Shaw said.

Mitchell, a country-and-Western singer who operates the Ban Dar nightclub in Ventura with her former husband, Jim Shields, said she expects to return to work there as soon as she gets back in shape.

“I gained too much weight and ate too much junk food” during her pregnancy, she said.


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