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Wednesday, January 21, 1998 Published at 17:18 GMT


Inquiry into oldest mum birth
image: [ Elizabeth Buttle's case is being investigated ]
Elizabeth Buttle's case is being investigated

Richard Hannaford reports
An investigation has been launched following claims that Britain's oldest mother had fertility treatment.

Elizabeth Buttle says that she gave birth naturally at the age of 60 but it has been reported in a British national newspaper that she deceived staff at a fertility clinic.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates the industry, is to investigate the allegations.

[ image: Dr Susan Bates
Dr Susan Bates "No way of checking ages"
It is also expected to review procedures at clinics across the country to check whether patients generally tell the truth.

The HFEA code of practice says clinics should carry out reasonable checks on every patient including age and medical history.

The London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre, where Mrs Buttle is said to have had her treatment, says it does not carry out birth certificate checks.

Dr Susan Bates, from the clinic in Harley Street, London, said: "We don't ask patients for birth certificates and we have no way of corroborating what they tell us.

"There are very strict rules over patient confidentiality. We cannot contact a patient's GP about fertility treatment unless the patient gives specific consent."

She denied that the clinic had treated Mrs Buttle, of Lampeter, Dyfed, Wales, but accepted that Mrs Buttle may have been admitted under a false name.

[ image: Sam Abdalla wants a legal maximum age limit]
Sam Abdalla wants a legal maximum age limit
The Daily Express newspaper reported that Mrs Buttle was admitted as a 49-year-old called Tracy Ann Williams.

Most clinics refuse to treat any patients over 50 but the case has prompted calls for a legal age limit.

Sam Abdalla, from the Lister Hospital, said: "It is time for the HFEA to set an upper age limit. It's a decision for society to make, not a doctor on his own."

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