Pregnancy Over 35 – Dangerous?

Late pregnancyIn previous years most women wouldn’t plan pregnancies after the age of 35, and certainly not into their 40s. However, career-oriented lifestyles and modern medical technology have seen this become a common and fairly safe practice for many women. But is there still a risk involved for baby and mom? Most definitely there is. Women in their late 30s and 40s do face-specific pregnancy risks.

Your doctor would know these risks and will warn you of them, but it is vital that if you are over 35 and pregnant you familiarise yourself with the risks and possible warning signs so action can be taken early.


A chromosome defect during pregnancy

The main health risk for baby and mom is that the baby could be born with Down Syndrome which is a common chromosome defect usually only occurring in pregnancies where the mom is over 35 years of age.

Although Down Syndrome can affect babies of young mothers too, statistics show that from age 35 to 40 the chances are one in 400 births, from 40 years to 45 years it rises to one in 100, from 45 to 49 the risk is highly placed at one in 30 births, and after 45 years of age the prevalence of Down Syndrome in babies is one in 10.

Children born with Down Syndrome experience different levels of mental retardation and physical birth defects.


Other common dangers of a late pregnancy

Although miscarriages are common to pregnant women of all ages, the risk of this also certainly heightens with age. If you are over 35 years of age and pregnant, you need to watch out for high blood pressure. This is not just an aggravation to your pregnancy, but a very serious condition.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy in older women. You can play your part in preventing gestational diabetes by exercising regularly and by keeping a strong control of your blood sugar via your diet, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and narcotics.

Placenta problems, with the most common of these being placenta previa, may occur. This is when the placenta covers part or sometimes all of the cervix. This condition can result in an excess of bleeding during the birth which can be very serious to both mom and baby.

Premature births are also common in this age group which can be dangerous to baby, especially when the birth is before 37 weeks.

Different to miscarrying which is in the first trimester, a still birth occurs when the foetus dies after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This can happen to an older pregnant woman as much as two to three times more often than it usually does to a pregnant woman in her 20s.

C-section delivery becomes more likely with age. Mothers over the age of 40 appear to be more than twice as likely as mothers under 20 to have a c-section. Often the reason is placenta previa, but there can be other complications, too.


Keep your eye on things

These may sound frightening enough to scare you off planning a late pregnancy, but there’s really no need as most of these dangers can be avoided if you are in tune with your body and keep a beady eye on things!

Speak to your doctor even before you’ve set your heart on bringing a baby into this world. Let her explain the dangers and the joys. She will give you a thorough examination to check that, although you may be over 35, you’re still a -sports model’ and therefore you and your baby can enjoy a happy, healthy pregnancy. Just make sure you are pre-warned and know what signs to look out for.

We wish you a happy pregnancy!


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