Pregnancy: Does Age Really Matter?

Some people believe that waiting until after age 35 to become pregnant may increase a woman's risk of complications. Is this true?

Conceiving a baby at either extreme of reproductive life presents risks and challenges. Today, larger numbers of women are having babies at an older age, so the increasing "incidence" of certain problems does not tell the whole story.

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers demonstrated an increasing risk of fetal loss with increasing maternal age in women over the age of 30. At 42 years of age, more than half of all pregnancies resulted in a spontaneous abortion, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth.

However, the news is not all bad. There are studies that also show children of older parents have more advantages in terms of parental readiness and available time to spend with children. Older parents have a tendency to have fewer children which contributes to the improved resources enjoyed by these children.

Although it may seem that a greater number of babies have birth defects in the population of older mothers, the only factor these women have a consistently increased risk for is Down syndrome.

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