Pregnancy after 30: What are the risks?

While it wasn’t unusual to have a baby in mid to late 20’s for a woman earlier this century, the trend of women having children in their 30’s has been on the rise in the past 30 years. It is often attributed to the rising trend of women focusing more on their careers and waiting to start families. However, a change in trends doesn’t mean female physiology and biology alters.

After age 30, pregnancy conditions change and women face different circumstances than those in their 20’s.  Obstacles include gestational diabetes, tough labors, an increased likelihood of having twins, and high blood pressure.

Additionally, there’s an increased risk of having children with chromosomal abnormalities including Down Syndrome. After age 30, a woman’s risk increases significantly. When she is 25 her risk is about 1 in 1,200, however, it increases to 1 in 25 by age 40.
Although the statistic is an alarming jump, the variable to keep in mind is that more women who are 35 and under choose to have babies than those who are over 35. Genetic testing is available for women to check for any abnormalities while the baby is in the womb and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is available to women using IVF to help decrease these odds before the pregnancy is established.

Almost half of all miscarriages in the first trimester are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus.  This means that women over 35 will also have an increased risk of miscarriage because they have an increased risk of having a chromosomally abnormal fetus compared to younger women. 

Women 35 and over who choose to have children also have a more difficult time getting pregnant.  With age, our risk of infertility also goes up. One of the reasons is that as a woman gets older, the eggs in her ovaries are also aging. Unlike men who continue to produce fresh sperm throughout their lives, women are born with all the eggs that they will ever have. To get pregnant, they may need to seek the help of a reproductive endocrinologists like ones at Island Fertility in Commack.  If they are over 35 and they’ve been trying for up to 6 months with no successes they should consider making an appointment with a fertility specialist.

In order to have a higher chance of a successful pregnancy, any woman over age 30 may want to consider certain lifestyle changes and precautions. To start, she should maintain or get to a healthy weight. She should reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption, avoid drugs, smoking, manage her stress and take folic acid regularly, as directed by her trusted physician.

Planning a family after 30 is not out of the question, there’s just a different set of challenges the mother is more likely to face. If you or your partner are experiencing infertility, consider contacting a fertility specialist like Island Fertility in Commack at 631.203.8928 and scheduling an appointment today.

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