Safe Pregnancy after Age Thirty-Five

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Age is not the biggest factor in a healthy pregnancy. The biggest factor is the good health of the mother.


Becoming pregnant after the age of 35, however, poses a number of potential problems. Chances for conception decrease with age. The incidence of miscarriage and premature birth is slightly higher in later-life pregnancies. So is the likelihood that the mother will develop diabetes or high blood pressure. The chances that a baby will be born with a genetic defect increases, too. So along with other health considerations, a pregnant woman in her mid-thirties or older should:

•  Discuss with her doctor, in detail, her pregnancy plans, risk factors, and measures she needs to take for a healthy pregnancy.

•  Talk to her doctor about prenatal genetic tests.

About Amniocentesis

Usually performed at about 16 weeks into the pregnancy, amniocentesis can detect Down’s syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, Rh incompatibility, and spina bifida. (Amniocentesis will also reveal the sex of the child, but it’s never done for that purpose alone.) The doctor uses a long needle to draw out a sample of amniotic fluid, which is tested for genetic abnormalities. The test itself presents some risk—there is about 1 chance in 100 to 1 chance in 200 that a miscarriage may occur.

Amniocentesis is justified under the following conditions.

•  The pregnant woman is 35 years old or older or requests genetic testing.

•  Someone in the mother’s or father’s immediate family (a parent, sibling, or child) has a genetic or metabolic disorder.

•  There is a family history of hemophilia (a bleeding disorder) or spina bifida (a neural tube defect).

•  An earlier pregnancy produced a baby with chromosome abnormalities.

Amniocentesis can’t detect abnormalities such as a club foot or cleft palate, so normal results don’t necessarily guarantee a normal baby. Another technique called chorionic villous sampling (CVS) analyzes a small sample of the placenta and can be performed earlier than amniocentesis, (between weeks 8 and 12 of the pregnancy). The earlier testing is done, the more time the prospective parents and their doctor have to decide on the best course of action.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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