Gene Expression

Old parents who die

FuturePundit points me to an article about an older woman who had IVF treatment who has died, Spanish woman who gave birth through IVF at 66 dies:

A Spanish woman who became the world’s oldest mother at the age of 66 has died of cancer just two-and-a-half years after giving birth to twins, raising fresh questions about the ethics of fertility treatment for women past natural childbearing age.

Some of the aspects of this case are sui generis, obviously. But as people have children later and later, I wonder as to the probabilities of larger proportions of individuals having their parents die just as they approach adulthood. This was the premodern norm, where a uniform distribution of mortality over one’s lifetime beyond childhood resulted in many individuals who did not grow up in a 2 parent household. But as men and women begin to put off parenthood, rationally in light of the demands of modern careers as well as advances in fertility treatments, unless we make some more advances in the “War on Cancer” it seems that the proportion of children whose parents die before they reach adulthood will start to creep up.

Comments

  1. #1 bioIgnoramus
    July 16, 2009

    Far too good to change: “uniform distribution of morality over one’s lifetime…”.

  2. #2 bioIgnoramus
    July 16, 2009

    :(

  3. #3 pconroy
    July 16, 2009

    Yeah, it’s a bit of a worry to me, that I’m approaching 50, and my youngest is just 8 months old. I hope I live to see him finish college and beginning his career.

    Illustrating this point, my grandfather died at 73, leaving 7 children under the age of 18. But then again my great-grandmother died at 29, leaving 13 children under the age of 10… so on balance I don’t worry too much. Everyone dies, and children adjust…

  4. #4 sg
    July 16, 2009

    It seems that if men and women both died more often, then the widow/ers just remarried. Certainly men would remarry to have a mother home for the kids while they worked. Also, ancient Jews were required to marry a brother’s (or even a relative’s) widow.

  5. #5 elambend
    July 17, 2009

    In pre-modern times big families alleviated this by providing older siblings to care for the younger. You can still see this now. I once knew a girl whose father dropped dead of a heart attack. Her oldest sibling, a brother twenty years older, became her father figure and help his mother in raising her.

  6. #6 anonymous
    July 25, 2009

    “Everyone dies, and children adjust…”

    Your out of your mind, I’m an adult and lost my father as a tenneager, and later my mother. I never adjusted and I feel screwed for life. I am preoccupied with death and tormented by a longing for a life that I can no longer have. I’m not even forty yet! Sure, I graduated college, and I have a career! A family of my own, well a wife yes. I’m totally messed up. They should have thought twice about bringing a kid into the world at their age!!! :( eternal sadness for me..!!!….

    YOUR OUT OF YOU MIND! :|