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Fiona fox's blog

delaying motherhood – the science of reproductive ageing

Mary Herbert is best known to journalists for her role in the pioneering research around mitochondrial DNA transfer, but this scientist is actually one of the UK’s leading experts on the biology of reproductive ageing. Her team’s research findings indicate that it may be impossible to reverse the damage to eggs during the ageing process.  She and her colleagues are concerned that too many women are leaving it too late to start having babies. At a time when the number of women over 40 presenting in IVF clinics is rising dramatically, Mary was joined by her clinical colleague Dr Jane Stewart, Professor Tom Kirkwood and Professor Judith Rankin, who is an expert on maternal epidemiology, to do the following:

  • Raise their concerns that the public health message about our aging eggs is not getting through to women
  • Provide an overview of the science of reproductive ageing – with a basic idiot’s guide to the aging egg
  • Offer a summary of the research taking place in Newcastle and elsewhere to better understand the ageing process,
  • Provide an assessment of the chances of finding a “cure” for the effects of reproductive ageing in women



Mary Herbert, Professor of Reproductive Biology, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University and Scientific Director, Newcastle Fertility Centre

Jane Stewart, Consultant in Reproductive Medicine, Newcastle Fertility Centre

Tom Kirkwood, Associate Dean for Ageing, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University

Judith Rankin, Professor of Maternal and Perinatal Epidemiology, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University 

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