If you have waited until after age 35 to conceive, you are not alone. In fact, at least 20% of women are waiting until after age 35 to start their families. Many women are waiting to start families because they are getting married later, they are enjoying fulfilling careers, they are traveling, or they have had trouble conceiving in the past.
What are the risks of pregnancy over 35?
Your baby has a greater risk of developing a chromosome abnormality, the most common being Down Syndrome. An amniocentesis can detect the Down Syndrome chromosome in pregnancy. According to Hook and Lindsjo: American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 30, 1998, the odds of Down Syndrome in relation to maternal age are as follows:
Age 30: 1 in 885
Age 35: 1 in 365
Age 40: 1 in 109
Age 45: 1 in 32
Age 49: 1 in 12
Pregnancy over age 35 may lead to a higher chance of having twins. Twins are three times as high in women over 35 with at least four other children than women under twenty pregnant for the first time.
Advanced maternal age may also increase your chances of pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, placental abruption, and stroke.
The good news is that your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby are excellent. Although there is more risk involved with advanced maternal age, the rewards are invaluable. Talk to your doctor about the risks and screening for chromosomal abnormalities.
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