Is it ok for me to have a baby at age 35 or older?

older_woman

So, you’re 35 or older, comfortable in your career, and getting the “itch” to have a baby? Well, there are a few things you need to consider.  Just as you have carefully planned your life thus far, particular consideration should be given to planning a baby.

For the best pregnancy results, women should adopt a healthy lifestyle of eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and successfully managing any chronic health conditions.  Diabetes and high blood pressure are often exacerbated during pregnancy, so should be controlled as much as possible prior to and during pregnancy, by maintaining healthy habits and obtaining prenatal care. If you are overweight or obese, you should try to lose weight as excess weight is associated with a higher risk of pregnancy complications.  Additionally, women trying to get pregnant should incorporate folic acid supplements into their dietary routine.

To increase the chances of having a baby, women 35 years or older should consult an obstetrician. Given your age of 35 years or older, you may experience more difficulty conceiving than younger women. The eggs of women 35 or older are fewer and may not be as healthy. If you are having trouble conceiving, there are options of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and assisted reproduction that might help.

Despite how young and healthy you might otherwise feel, women age 35 or older who become pregnant do so at a medically defined “advanced maternal age.” Research shows that pregnancies for women 35 or older have higher associated risks of conceiving twins, developing gestational diabetes, experiencing pregnancy induced hypertension, preterm labor or miscarriage.  Also, women 35 years or older are more likely to have babies with birth defects, low birth weight or be stillborn. Given the increased risk, particularly the risk of birth defects caused by chromosomal abnormalities, several additional tests are required for women age 35 or older. Specifically, at age 35, a woman’s risk of developing the chromosomal abnormality that causes Downs Syndrome dramatically increases. Thus, women 35 and older begin early in pregnancy undergoing prenatal tests of ultrasounds and blood screens to detect placenta location and amount of amniotic fluid around the baby as well as any developmental problems of the brain, spinal cord or central nervous system. In later stages of pregnancy, more invasive genetic testing such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis are often recommended.  Each procedure tests for birth defects and is accompanied with genetic counseling to assess family history and to explain the risks and benefits associated with the procedures.

Despite the pronounced risks, many women are opting to wait to age 35 or older to have a baby. For many, the benefits of a secure financial state with intact career and education, marriage or relationship, and confidence in childrearing, outweigh the possible harms.  Thus, women 35 or older should plan effectively, enhance their health prior to and during pregnancy, and engage in prenatal care that is essential to a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Women 35 years or older are regularly pursuing a happy and healthy pregnancy and child rearing experience complete with health education and lifestyle modification that ensures a healthy baby and Mom.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-after-35

http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/getready_after35.html

http://advancedmaternalage.org/

http://www.expectantmothersguide.com/st-louis/articles/ESLadv_maternal_age.htm

http://www.parentsask.com/articles/pregnancy-after-35-should-you-be-worried

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=33289

Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”