What Women Who are 35 Years and Older Should Know About Their Pregnancy

While many women are increasingly choosing to have children at an older age, there are certain elevated risks involved. Women are more likely to have a child born with genetic defects, suffer a miscarriage, and experience complications during pregnancy. While some of these risks have been reduced in recent years, it's still important to know what to expect if you're having your first child and you're 35 years of age or older.

Genetic Abnormalities

For women, there is an increased risk of genetic deformations when they choose to have a first child at 35 and beyond.   For example, if you have a child when you're 25 to 29 years old, you have a 1 in 1,100 chance of having a child with Down syndrome. After 35, this risk goes up to 1 in 350. Each year after, the risk increases dramatically. For example, if you have a child when you're 43 years old, you have a 1 in 50 chance of having a child with Down syndrome.

However, Down syndrome is just one example, and there are many complications that can occur, including congenital malformations and spina bifida, which is a spinal cord defect. In general, research has also shown that mothers who have a baby at an advanced age may have children that suffer from chromosomal abnormalities.

What Mother's Experience

Risks are not only higher for children, but also for mothers. Mothers are more likely to experience high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and premature births when they have a child past 35.

The Importance of Testing

For women who are over the age of 35, screening becomes even more important due to increased risks. Tests like an amniocentesis and the chorionic villus sampling (CVS) are genetic screening tests that can detect with a high degree of accuracy whether your fetus has Down syndrome, spina bifida, or other complications. However, you will need to undergo routine monitoring to ensure your child is healthy throughout the pregnancy.

Furthermore, doctors and midwives can now perform a variety of tests to screen you for complications like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and the risk for a premature birth. Certain medications or treatments may help alleviate symptoms and reduce your chances of complications.

Ultimately, there have been tremendous advances in treating mothers who are having children past the age of 35, which helps keep mothers safer and improves pregnancy outcomes. However, it's up to you to begin your antenatal care with a doctor or midwife as soon as you learn you're pregnant or even before if you're planning a pregnancy. This will help you get the best care and ensure you have the tests necessary for a successful pregnancy. Consider contacting a local obstetrician, such as Desert Rose OBGYN PC, to discuss your options and what to expect.