These is to all the women who are now waiting until their thirties and forties to get married or have children. Some decide to wait so that they can focus on their career, some are waiting to find their mate, and some simply enjoy their freedom. Despite there being advantages to holding off on starting a family, the risks associated with later-in-life pregnancies need to be taken seriously.
The odds of having a miscarriage get higher once a woman turns 35 years old and continue to rise as she gets older. There is a 35% chance of miscarriage for women between ages 40 to 44 and over a 50% chance for those over 45, as opposed to only 10% for a woman in her twenties and 12% for a woman in her thirties. If the pregnancy does come to fruition, older women also have higher odds of delivering early or their child having a low birth weight.
Preeclampsia is a very serious condition that can occur in women of any age, but it is especially common in those women having their first children at later ages. The condition causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Placental substances can cause the mother’s blood vessels to become dysfunctional, and kidney and liver damage can also occur if it is left untreated. This condition can happen any time after 20 weeks gestation through six weeks post-deliver
Multiple births might be seen as a wonderful outcome for some, but for an older woman expecting only one, they can be a source of discontent. The chances of having twins or even triplets increases as a woman ages. The eggs of older women can divide rather unpredictably, causing more than one fetus, or she can release multiple eggs at once. All multiple pregnancies are considered high risk as well.
Certain labor problems tend to happen more to first-time moms over 35 years old. Placenta previa, a condition that occurs when the placenta blocks the opening to the cervix, might be one such labor complication an older woman is more likely to experience. Almost all women who have placenta previa will need to have a c-section to make sure both mother and child are safe and sound. Fetal distress and prolonged second-stage labor are also common issues in older women which may result in c-sections.
This type of diabetes occurs only during pregnancy and can happen to an otherwise diabetes-free woman. Blood sugars must be monitored closely, and an exercise program may be induced. Untreated gestational diabetes can cause the baby to grow too large and complicate pregnancy and delivery alike.
Women over 40 have a higher rate of genetic abnormalities. As mentioned above, the eggs of older women can divide rather unpredictably, and in some cases, this can cause disorders such as Down syndrome. This syndrome happens if there is the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. This chromosome may cause defects of the heart and other organs and cognitive delays. Around 25 out of every 1000 women that are 40 and older will have a baby with chromosome damage. Two tests are available to detect abnormalities if one should want to: amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling.
Although there are some elevated risks to having a child after 40, many women have perfectly normal pregnancies. It is just important to know the risks and be prepared if they should occur.
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