While having a baby at any age is a joy, for women age 40 or older, there are certain precautions that must be adhered to. HEALTH investigates.
Increase in Age The number of women over 40 giving birth for the first time has actually increased by 50 percent, explains Dr. Lata Iyer, Specialist Obstetrician/Gynecologist at Belhoul Speciality Hospital. This can be partly attributed to increasing levels of education in woman as higher education can help in finding a stable job, securing a high salary, and for increasing career prospects, while the advancement in prenatal medical research makes women feel safer about having healthy babies later in life. new advances in medicine have helped future mothers suffering from chronic disease, sterility or having the possibility of complications during pregnancy and allowed these women to give birth to normal, healthy babies. “New advances in medicine have helped future mothers suffering from chronic disease, sterility or having the possibility of complications during pregnancy and allowed these women to give birth to normal, healthy babies,” she explains.
Generally the risk increases after the age of 40, says Dr. Iyer and these risks include genetic disorders, stillbirths, miscarriages, diabetes, high blood pressure, and genetic disorders such as Down’s syndrome, Edwards syndrome or Patau syndrome. “Each year after age 35, the mother’s risks for each of these increases even more.
In fact statistics show that for a 40-year-old woman, the chances of giving birth to a baby with Down’s Syndrome is nine times higher than for 30 year old woman.
Gestational diabetes is also two to three times more common in women over age 40 than in younger women, and recent studies, indicates Dr. Iyer, show the risk is even higher if the woman has gained weight over the years.
“Also the chance of having a Cesarean section is about twice as high for women ages 35 to 39 than for those in their 20s, possibly because labor tends to take longer in older women,” she says.
Probably the greatest advantage of waiting to have children in your 40s, is that the couple is usually emotionally and financially ready for them. “The husband and wife have enough time to know each other in all sorts of circumstances which will provide a solid foundation for raising a family,” she says and also as an older mom, they will be in a good position to make wise parenting decisions. They feel pretty confident about child-rearing and more often understand the benefits of breast feeding.
Advanced Maternal Age
At this stage of pregnancy, there will be specialized tests offered such as Amniocentesis, Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS), Maternal Serum Screening (MSS), and Nuchal Translucency (NT) Screening. Also Maternal Serum Screen can give approximate idea of the risk for Down’s syndrome, Edwards syndrome or Patau syndrome. There is another small but serious risk to the babies dying in -utero and this increased risk cannot be explained by complications in the pregnancy or other illnesses alone. There is also a marked pattern of increased intervention with the increasing age of the mother such as induced labor, delivery of baby by forceps, vacuum or by Cesarean.