Brazilian television star Claudia Raia says she got the surprise of her life when she discovered she was pregnant at 55.
At the time, Raia believed she was in menopause, which happens around age 51, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
While speaking with Brazilian journalist Renata Ceribelli, Raia said that she and her husband, Jarbas Homem de Mello, had undergone one failed cycle of in vitro fertilization. The couple opted not to do another cycle.
“I looked at God and said, ‘OK. I get it. It wasn’t meant to be,’” she said.
Then, Raia and Homem de Mello conceived naturally — a turn of events that left her doctors stunned, she said. The chances of this happening are "way less than 1%," according to Dr. Elizabeth Sarah Ginsburg, a reproductive endocrinologist at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston who has not personally treated Raia.
Ginsburg points to one population study done on the Hutterites, a community similar to the Amish or the Mennonites.
"They don't use birth control, they have very low incidence of sexual transmitted diseases — and they had no reported pregnancies that went to delivery after 46, in this fairly large population," she tells TODAY.com.
Ginsburg notes that data shows the likelihood of a 44-year-old woman taking home a baby from a cycle of IVF is less than 2%. Raia was 55 when she conceived. The chances of experiencing a miscarriage after 45 is roughly 80%, she noted.
But on Feb. 11, 2023, Raia and Homem de Mello welcomed a baby boy named Luca. The infant joined grown siblings Enzo and Sophia, from Raia’s previous marriage.
“We are overflowing with happiness and love,” Raia wrote on Instagram.
Ginsburg says what happened to Raia is nothing short of a medical miracle.
"Most women in their fifties use donor eggs because typically eggs in a woman that age — if she has any — are chromosomally abnormal," Ginsburg explains.
She adds that there are also many health risks of pregnancy in your 50s.
"Studies show a high incidence of early preeclampsia or hypertensive disorders," Ginsburg says. "In some cases, the pregnant person's kidneys stop working well, or their liver function can become abnormal. Sometimes a baby has to be delivered very prematurely in order to save the mother's life. That's what we really worry about."
Bottom line, Ginsburg says: "If this was truly a spontaneous pregnancy, she got very lucky."