Babies After Menopause?

I sense more than a little condescension in the hand-wringing about postmenopausal babies {Second Opinion, Nov. 27}. Is all the recent debate about "choice" and a woman's "right to her body" going for naught? Are women allowed only the choice of terminating pregnancies? Are we obliged to consult a (male) ethicist to determine if we are too old? And what is the moral issue here?

There are ethical questions, to be sure, such as ownership of the egg. Unfortunately, they are not addressed. Instead, we are presented with the specter of older parents facing the greater likelihood of having abnormal children and of caring for children and aging parents simultaneously. Is that so terrible?

I embody all of Daniel Callahan's prejudices. At 42, I gave birth to my third child at the end of a pregnancy and delivery that was much smoother than earlier ones. My baby is normal, but I have a mild case of cerebral palsy. My husband and older children help out a lot. My father is 83. We don't make a perfect life-cycle profile, but no one is complaining.

I just want to tell doctors and would-be mothers to forge ahead. Medicine is not meant to just sit by and let nature take its course. If there was too much "thinking twice" about advances, surgery would still be limited to amputations. Louise B. Strait Bethesda

Not for nothing were women granted menopause -- by then our minerals, especially calcium, are depleted, as are our vitamins and especially our nerves that are so necessary to comply with all the needs of caring for a newborn. In addition, it is especially hard for children to have older parents who cannot play or carry on with them like younger parents can. And at a young age, they will have to be taking care of old parents. It's time we started listening to Mother Nature; she knew exactly what she was doing when she devised menopause.

Hannah Wexler

Falls Church

More on Attention Deficit Disorder

The article on attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder {Children's Health, Nov. 20} contained a statement about the drug Ritalin that is not entirely correct. Although one study about 10 years ago suggested that this drug could "markedly slow growth," three major studies done since then show that Ritalin does not affect growth or that, for some, the total effect by the time they are full grown might be a loss of less than one inch.

Concerning Tourette's syndrome, Ritalin can, in a very small number of children, cause tics. Usually, once the medication is stopped, the tics go away. In a small percentage of those children who do develop tics, they may persist as Tourette's, but for these children there is often a family history of the disorder. Larry B. Silver, MD Georgetown University School of Medicine Washington Even harder to diagnose is attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity. We had a son who tested very high on standardized tests but barely graduated from high school. He underwent 21 months of psychological counseling for "underachievers" to no avail.

Finally, when he was 19, a psychiatrist diagnosed his condition as attention deficit disorder and put him on medication. It has been a miracle to see the change. He is currently a sophomore in college and doing very well. He is able to concentrate on reading books and, for the first time, to take charge of his life. I can't urge parents of "underachievers" strongly enough to seek psychiatric help for their child. I only wish we had done so 10 years earlier. Susan M. Anderson Alexandria

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