What is the right age for pregnancy? Medically speaking it is anywhere from the twenties to early thirties. But today we find more women delaying motherhood trying first to establish their careers thereby increasing the number of late pregnancies.
Pregnancy after 40 years of age is fraught with dangers for both the mother and the child, is something we all knew but the fact has been now again re-established by a recent Israeli research especially for women over the age of 45.
Previous research on risks and complications related to pregnancy in older women focused on those between the ages 35 to 40, and nothing was known about pregnancy after 40.
This research aimed to find out the complications associated with pregnancy after 40 years. The research team observed women of different ages who gave birth in a local hospital during the years 2000 and 2008. This included 80,000 women among whom 177, that is, only 2 percent where over the age of 45.
Most of these women over the age of 45 had got pregnant using donor eggs. Cesarean section delivery was preferred by the majority of this group, which was more than twice the overall rate in the total 80,000 women.
The pregnancy after 40 also put the women at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy apart from other more serious complications like pre-term births and placenta previa.
In Placenta previa the placenta tends to block the mouth of the birth canal and Preterm birth means delivering the baby before the average 40 weeks of pregnancy.
9 percent of the older pregnant women reported high blood pressure and 17 percent were diabetic during pregnancy as compared to 6 percent diabetics in younger women.
6 percent of the older women suffered from placenta previa, approximately six times the overall rate, and more than one in five women had a preterm birth.
Among the 27 women who were more than 50 years of age, the reported incidences of preterm birth were even higher.
Fever and severe bleeding after birth were the two other common complications observed, and also their babies were more likely to land in the intensive care unit or stay in the hospital longer. What was a more worrying trend that around 4 percent of these babies who were conceived at pregnancy after 40 suffered from metabolic problems like low blood pressure in comparison to a mere 2 percent of babies of younger women.
This research is a first of its kind focusing on the birth complications in women at extremely advanced maternal age and pregnancy after 40. Earlier studies have reported older mothers facing more complications and yet others did not find any difference. But the latest research found the women over 45 years of age at a higher risk of developing birth related complications.
Many health experts state that increasing age leads to less (healthy) individuals, and less healthy individuals and pregnancy after 40 do have higher pregnancy risks. It is not the age of the women that creates the trouble, rather the fact that the older people get more vulnerable and disease prone and the potential to complicated pregnancies also increases.
Assisted reproductive technologies, such as the use of donor eggs in case of pregnancies of older women is also a good option for pregnancy after 40 as these pregnancies may be healthier than using their own eggs which might have more genetic abnormalities.
All in all pregnancy after 40 does not seem to be a very safe option neither for the mother nor the child. Therefore, advice of experts is always required to go ahead with the pregnancy after 40.
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