The Dangers Of Pregnancy After Thirty

Thank goodness that medicine continues to advance in both care and technology. As medical science continues its march it becomes ever safer for women of a certain age to become pregnant. Still, it's good to review the more common risks associated with pregnancy in women over thirty-five.

Common Complications

The common expected complications in pregnancies for women over the age of thirty-five can be divided into 4 categories:

*Medical conditions that can affect both mother and fetus

*Chromosomal abnormalities resulting in birth defects

*Miscarriage or pregnancy loss

*Complications relating to labor and delivery

This article treats the first two categories, though all these risks increase along with the mother's age. In spite of the dangers, good preconception counseling and proper prenatal care can ensure that the over thirty-five pregnancy has the best possible outcome.

Special Category

Pregnant women over forty are in a special category as they are more prone to thyroid disorders, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The good news is that all of these conditions can be diagnosed prior to gestation with most associated treatments considered safe for use during pregnancy. If you are planning to become pregnant and are on a treatment regimen, talk to your doctor to see if you need to switch to a different medication or adjust your dosage for safety in pregnancy.

Some maternal illnesses, left untreated, can have an adverse impact on the fetus. Eclampsia is a prime example of a serious complication that is associated with pregnancy. The symptoms of eclampsia include protein in the urine, swelling of the hands and face (edema), and high blood pressure. Eclampsia can result in damage to the nervous system, seizures and strokes, and numerous other severe complications. If blood pressure is left uncontrolled, fetal growth may be restricted and in the worst scenario, cause a stillbirth.

Undetected diabetes increases the risk for birth defects. When blood sugar is left uncontrolled, the growth of the fetus may be affected. Most of these issues are avoided with proper medical care and appropriate medication.

Genetic Defects

You may age well, but your eggs might not follow suit, resulting in genetic defects in your unborn child. The most common example of this is Down syndrome which is caused by an extra chromosome. Down syndrome causes heart and other organ defects along with mental retardation. The risk isn't high, but there is a significant rise for Down syndrome in the babies of women over thirty-five.

The breakdown for the risk of birth defects is as follows:

*3% of all pregnancies result in a baby with a birth defect

*In pregnancies in women over forty, the risk for birth defects rises to between 6% and 8%

*1 in 365 births for women over 35 results in a baby with Down syndrome

*1 in 100 births for women over 40 results in a baby with Down syndrome

*1 in 40 births for women aged 45 results in a baby with Down syndrome

Slight Risk

There are now two tests that can detect chromosomal abnormalities in early pregnancy: amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS). The tests do carry with them a small risk for miscarriage. If you do proceed to testing and have a positive result, you may decide to terminate the pregnancy.

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