Will your advanced age create any challenge if you are planning for a pregnancy? Unfortunately advanced age is not only a challenge to your fertility status, but also your childbearing capacity. Advanced maternal age in this respect is defined as women aged over 35 years at the time of her delivery. The incidences of pregnancy over 35 years are gradually rising worldwide. There are multiple causes of this deferred child bearing including delayed marriage, opting for higher education, carrier-conscious attitude of today’s women towards family planning and lastly increased prevalence of unstable relationships.
Decreased Fertility in Pregnancy over 35
Fertility declines with advancing maternal age. Changes inside the uterus or deranged hormonal function and poor oocyte quality are various factors attributable to this. This is a well-known fact.
Incidences of first trimester complications as abortions and ectopics are higher in older women. Results of infertility treatment are also poor for those aged over 35 years. Poor ovarian reserve and increased infection are the common causes of these treatment failures in elderly women.
Increased Risk of Congenital Anomalies
The risk of congenital anomalies also rises with advanced maternal age. Down’s screening is a must if your age is above or at 35 years. The chances of having a Down’s baby are five times higher in pregnancy over 35 years. Cardiac malformations, club foot and hernias appear to be more common in offsprings of older women.
Aggravated Late – Pregnancy Complications in Older Moms
All types of pregnancy complications are exaggerated in elderly gravid women.
Hypertension: This is the most frequent medical problem encountered in pregnancy over 35. The risk is 2 times higher than average aged pregnancy.
Diabetes mellitus: The prevalence of diabetes increases with maternal age. The rate is 3-6 folds higher in women 40 years of age or older compared to women aged 20-29 years.
Abnormal placental position, multiple births: Your placenta will be placed abnormally lower, increasing the risk of bleeding. The risk is even 10 fold higher in woman aged more than 40 years. Incidences of multiple pregnancy will be higher in pregnancy over 35 years.
Labor disorders and cesarean delivery: High incidences of abnormal labor occurred in elderly women. The cesarean section rate is almost 50% of mothers over 40 years, in contrast to 30% of the general US population.
Late pregnancy – fetal death, preterm delivery and small baby: The risk of late fetal death, preterm delivery and small babies are higher in pregnancy over 35 years. The risk of neonatal death is also higher in comparison to average aged mother.
What to Do Then While Opting for Pregnancy over 35?
- Start folic acid while trying for pregnancy as it prevents many congenital anomalies.
- Screen yourself thoroughly before getting pregnant – verify your blood pressure, cardiac status, renal profile and other systems.
- Stop smoking.
- Ensure whether your daily medication will be safe for your growing fetus. Otherwise you have to change it now.
- Extensive screening is needed to rule out fetal congenital anomalies by Down’s screening and ultrasonography.
- Regular, frequent antenatal visit is required to rule out any hidden medical disorders aggravated by pregnancy.