Assessing the Risks in an Older Pregnancy

The latest trends show that couples are waiting longer to get married and even longer to start a family. Couples today are interested in becoming financially stable and for both the husband and the wife to be established in their careers before becoming pregnant. This means more babies are being born to older couples, and there’s no sign this trend will stop anytime soon.

On top of that, for couples over the age of 35, there are certain risks that pregnancy presents.

Here are some facts that you need to know when it comes to having children later in life:

  • The rate of births for women that are over the age of 35 has gradually risen, to where around 15% of babies are born to mothers over the age of 35.
  • Conception itself can be more difficult after the age of 35. Fertility tends to decline slowly between the ages of 32 and 37, and then the rate of decline increases much faster from 38 to 45.
  • Women over the age of 35 may have a history of pelvic infections, irregular cycles and chronic pelvic pain. Before trying to get pregnant, you should talk to your doctor about these issues.
  • The risk of certain chromosomal disorders, birth defects and developmental delays increases gradually as you get older. About 0.05% of babies born to women at the age of 35 will be born with Down syndrome; by the age of 40, it’s closer to 2%. When a woman has a baby at the age of 45, the rate of Down syndrome is closer to 10%
  • Those chronic medical issues you’ve developed over the years, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, can be aggravated by childbirth. You also have a higher risk over the age of 35 of developing preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure due to pregnancy, or gestational diabetes.

Waiting longer to start your family isn’t always a bad thing. The key is to go into it knowing what kinds of risks to expect, and being willing to talk to your health care providers about doing what you can to make sure your pregnancy is a happy and healthy one.

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