A woman’s goal during pregnancy is to deliver a healthy child. However, after age 35 there are increased risks. Biology, preexisting conditions, and a woman’s’ overall health can play a role in complications that may arise. Here is a look at the most common risks in a mature pregnancy:
After 35, fertility decreases significantly which makes it harder to become pregnant. Once that hurdle is crossed, staying pregnant can be even harder. A recent study in the British Medical Journal discovered that women 45 years and older, had an astonishing 75% rate of miscarriage, while women who were in their mid-twenties, had a rate of only 9%.
While most pregnancies are considered full-term at 40 weeks, studies have shown that women older than 35 have a higher chance at delivering sooner than this. Some women deliver prior to 37 weeks. Babies born this early may experience a low birth rate and difficulty breathing. More severe complications of premature delivery include heart problems, hearing and vision problems, and chronic health conditions.
Gestational diabetes can affect any pregnancy, but it is more prevalent in women older than 35. This condition occurs when the mothers body no longer produces enough insulin to regulate its own blood sugar levels. While your blood sugar should return back to normal after delivery, gestational diabetes does put you at an increased risk for Type II diabetes later in life. This condition affects baby too and can cause high birth weight and pre- term delivery.
Women over 35 are at an increased risk for a condition called placenta previa. This condition occurs when the placenta blocks the cervix and prevents natural birth. Sometimes, the best treatment for mom and baby is delivery via C-section.
Other health conditions increase your chance of a C-section at this age too, including hypertensive disorders (such as preeclampsia), or multiple pregnancies. Yes, twins are more likely after 35 too!
Babies whose mothers are over 35 are at increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities. Common genetic disorders include Down Syndrome and congenital heart defects. Studies have shown that a woman who is 25, only has a 1 in 1,250 chance of delivering a baby with Down Syndrome, while a mother aged 35, has a 1 in 400 chance.
This risk continues to increase as a woman ages and by the time mom is 45, her baby has 1 in 30 chance of being affected. Doctors will monitor the mature pregnancy with multiple genetic tests and ultrasounds to ensure baby is developing normally.
If you are planning to become pregnant after age 35 it is important to understand you are at an increased risk of pregnancy complications. Working with a fertility specialist, and a team that specializes in mature pregnancy, may give you the best chance at a successful full-term delivery.