A 59-year-old Briton gave birth to twins on Christmas Day, becoming the oldest woman on record to have a child.

British newspapers reporting the birth on Monday said the mother was artificially impregnated with eggs from a younger woman. Neither the woman nor her 45-year-old husband could be identified, for legal reasons, The Sun newspaper said.The newspaper said the case is similar to that of Mary Shearing, who was 53 years old when she gave birth to twins in Anaheim, Calif., on Nov. 10, 1992.

Another London newspaper reporting the birth, the Daily Mail, said no details had been released on the sex of the babies.

The initial reaction from Britain's medical community was negative. Dr. John Marks, the former chairman of the British Medical Association's ethics committee, said the case "bordered on the Frankenstein syndrome." He added that the woman would be 69 when her daughters were just 10 years old.

The woman was turned down for fertility treatment by the ethics committee, which ruled she was too old for the emotional strain of pregnancy, The Sun said. But she refused to give up and consulted an Italian doctor who specializes in helping women who have gone through menopause have children.

Dr. Severino Antinori runs a private clinic in Rome and had helped 35 women age 48 to 55 to become mothers. He told her there was a 25 percent chance of success, The Sun said.

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The woman became pregnant at the age of 58 when eggs donated by an Italian woman in her 20s were fertilized by her husband's sperm, then implanted in her.

Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley said the treatment would not be allowed in Britain for a post-menopausal woman.

"Women do not have the right to have a child. The child has a right to a suitable home," Bottomley said on BBC Radio.

The Guinness Book of Records lists the oldest woman to become a mother as Ruth Alice Kistler of Portland, Ore. Kistler gave birth to a daughter at Glendale, near Los Angeles, on Oct. 18, 1956, at the age of 57 years and 129 days.

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