The Italian Almanac

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Pregnant at 54

An Italian woman has amazed doctors and herself by getting pregnant naturally at the age of 54. It is rare for women over 50 to conceive, especially without undergoing in-vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive technology therapies.

At first Giovanna Ciardi, who lives in Camaiore, near Lucca in Tuscany, thought she was experiencing the start of the menopause when she skipped a period. "But when I went to the doctor and told him I felt nauseous and had an upset tummy, he smiled and said those symptoms had nothing to do with the menopause," Ciardi said. "He told me to go and buy a pregnancy test. I was surprised. I hadn't considered the possibility of getting pregnant at my age."

Ciardi, who is 15 weeks pregnant with a baby girl, has a 23-year-old daughter from a previous marriage to that with her current husband Bruno. There have been a few cases of women conceiving naturally later than 54, but gynaecologists are still taken aback by her case. "A natural pregnancy at the age of 54 is absolutely exceptional," said Giovanni Paolo Cima, the head of the gynaecology and obstetrics department at the local hospital. "We've had two cases at 47, nothing over that."