As women begin to reach the age of 30, their level of fertility begins to decline. Additionally, once women reach 35, complications during pregnancy are experienced on a more common basis. The exact reasons for the decrease in fertility due to age can vary; some include a fewer number of eggs that are available, a lessening in the frequency of sexual intercourse, sperm count decreasing, altered ovulation due to a change in hormones and reasons associated with gynecologic and medical conditions.
Pregnancy After Age 35, Is It Safe?
When comparing the risks of complications during pregnancy between those over the age of 35 with younger age groups, the risk is higher for those who are older. This is the case even though technological advances and medical care advances have made it easier and safer for older females to have babies. For those who decide to delay their time to have a baby, it is important for you to understand the risks that are involved with delayed pregnancies. By being aware of the risks, you are preparing yourself to take the appropriate precautions so that the risks are minimized and you have a higher chance of a healthy pregnancy.
Does the Risk of Birth Defects Increase?
The risk of birth defects increases as the mother ages. The most probable reason is due to the fact that nondisjunction tends to occur more often in older females. Nondisjuction is simply defined as when the egg is abnormally divided. When this happens, the chromosomes are not equal at the division’s end. Traditionally, the age when a woman becomes at risk for this complication is at the age of 35. Statistics show that women who have babies in their 20s have a 1 in 1,400 chance of their babies being born with Down syndrome. With women who give birth in their 40s, this number increases to 1 in 100.
Will the Risk of Miscarriage Increase?
Miscarriages are defined as the event of losing a baby before 20 weeks. The risk for this occurring in women in their 20s is between 12 and 15 percent while women in their 40s have a 25 percent risk. This increased risk has something to do with the increased number of chromosomal abnormalities.
What Other Problems Can Arise?
Chronic health problems have a tendency to occur more in those who are in their 30s and 40s. These types of health problems include high blood pressure and diabetes, so it is vital to have these conditions in control before you attempt to conceive a child. If these conditions are not controlled, they can pose a risk to your baby and yourself. In order to reduce the risks that are associated with these types of chronic conditions, you must carefully monitor the condition before conception as well as throughout the entire pregnancy.
Females over the age of 30 are at a higher risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure while they are pregnant. Because of this fact, it is especially important to obtain prenatal care as soon as possible. Other problems that can arise include still birth and low birth weight for those over 35. Additionally, a cesarean birth is also more common for women who have their first child after 35.
How Can I Increase My Chances of Having a Healthy Baby?
There are general ways that can help increase your chances of having a healthy baby. One way is to ensure that you consume enough folic acid from foods such as liver, dried beans, leafy green vegetables and some citrus fruits. Limit the amount of caffeine you consume; you should have no more than 300mg per day. Maintain a well-balanced diet, ensuring that you ensure that you are consuming enough nutrients from foods that are high in fiber and starch. Consume a minimum of four servings of calcium-rich foods or dairy products each day. Other ways to increase your chances include exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol consumption and smoking tobacco.
What Types of Prenatal Tests Should I Have?
Certain tests are recommended for women over 35 since their risks of complications are higher than women of the typical child-bearing age. These types of tests are designed to detect certain disorders before, during and after the term of pregnancy. Some tests require genetic counseling so that you are completely aware of the risks associated with them, then you are able to choose whether or not you wish to proceed with the tests.
The ultrasound test requires high-frequency waves so that you are able to view an image of your baby. This type of test determines the size of the baby, the sex of the baby and whether or not the heart is beating early in the pregnancy. The quad marker screen is a test that determines developmental problems in the spinal cord, brain or other neural issues by sampling blood. Amniocentesis is a type of test in which the physician takes a sample of the amniotic fluid to test for birth defects. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a type of test that is done to determine whether certain genes that you have are transferred to the baby to present birth defects.
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