Advances in fertility medicine, combined with a cultural shift in which many couples are waiting until their early to mid 30s to have children, have created a lot of awareness of the risks involved in being pregnant over the age of 35.
Among the risks for a woman over 35 who becomes pregnant are:
– A higher rate of birth defects, the most common of which is Down Syndrome.
– Double the rate of developing high blood pressure and diabetes for the first time during pregnancy.
– A significantly higher rate of miscarriage.
– Increased risk of placental problems such as placental previa.
– Increased risk of pre-term delivery.
– Lower average birth weight.
– Greater difficulties in labor, such as fetal distress and a prolonged second stage of labor.
Fortunately, many of these potential problems can be identified and/or prevented very early in pregnancy. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, these disorders usually do not pose a major risk to mother or baby. Some helpful steps you can take to prepare for an over-35 pregnancy include:
Review your medical conditions, medications and immunizations with your physician before becoming pregnant.
Take a pre-natal vitamin containing folic acid.
Eat a well-balanced nutritious diet.
Quit smoking if you smoke.
Always check with your physician before using any medication, including over-the-counter or herbal medicines.
In addition, there can be practical difficulties for the child such as career changes, child care, the future financial shock of paying for college tuition at an older age, and the aging of the father and mother.
However, everything is not bad for a couple who chooses pregnancy at age 35 or older. Some of the positive aspects can include a secure financial state, career and educational goals that have usually been achieved, and a marriage or relationship that has had an opportunity to reach a certain stability. Another important aspect would be the parents’ increased confidence in child rearing abilities due to maturity.