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17 Apr, 2009 05:37

Giving birth at 79 – new world record or fake?

A Russian woman claims to be both the world's oldest person and the oldest-ever mother. Her passport shows that she’s 125, and she says she last gave birth a mere 46 years ago, at the tender age of 79.

If true, she has beaten the previous record holder by almost a decade. Some critics, however, have thrown doubts on her story, suggesting her documents possibly don’t offer the whole truth.

Possible – in theory

Ulya Margusheva is an ethnic Kabardin from the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria in the North Caucasus. Long-lifer Ulya says she doesn’t eat anything sweet or salty and that she hates bananas.

Her story becomes all the more fascinating with the revelation that the woman gave birth to her only child when she was 79.

“I explain it by the fact that she lives in an ecologically-safe environment. She's a healthy woman herself,” said Maria Tembotova, the republic's chief obstetrician.

“And despite the fact she got married in her late she had a healthy lifestyle. So it is possible in theory”.

Journalists investigate

So far a Japanese woman lays claim to the record as the oldest mother to give birth. If Ulya really is the true world record holder, why is she enjoying so little publicity?

Local journalist Anatoly Tanashev doubted the legend and joined RT to investigate.

It turns out that Ulya doesn’t remember anyone except Stalin and Lenin. A photo of Tsar Nicolas II doesn’t ring a bell, nor do photos of President Medvedev, or of the republic’s biggest celebrity – Eurovision Song Contest 2008 winner Dima Bilan. At the same time, she’s quite handy with her mobile phone.

Two documents, her passport and her child’s birth certificate, make it quite clear: Ulya was born in 1884 and her child was born 79 years later. Ulya explains:

“Yes, I gave birth to my child naturally. No caesarean section. A nurse at the hospital told me when I was checking out with a child: ‘Oh! What a poor woman!’”

Anatoly Tanashev was still skeptical. Stories of the ‘Old Ma’ didn’t seem to have impressed him:

“I think there's a mistake with the age, because if she says she went to school when the Young Communist League went to cavalry camps and she was 10-14 at the time, then there are holes in her story.”

Handwritten errors

One problem is that before WWI all archives in Russia were handwritten, especially in rural areas. To find out more, RT dug into the ancient paperwork.

Ulya’s date of birth varies from document to document. A register book says that Ulya Margusheva was born in 1891 which is seven years later than what is written in her passport.

The local administration has never doubted Ulya’s longevity. Neither have some of the other exceptional people in the region. “Why not?” says Nurmukhamed Kambiyev, the tallest man in Kabardino-Balkaria.

“She was only 79, right? It is quite possible. I studied gynecology, the gynecology of animals. I drew some parallels.”

Nurmukhamed, at well over two meters, is the tallest man in the republic. Looking at the giant it is little wonder that the people believe the local mineral waters produce miracles.