Due to economic factors and busy careers, more and more women are waiting to become pregnant until they are over the age of 35. While they may be more financially able to provide for the child at this more mature stage of their life, older mothers also face a number of risks that their younger counterparts do not need to concern themselves with. Knowing what these risk factors are and taking precautions against them can help you to enjoy your pregnancy and enable you to have a perfectly healthy baby.
Children who are born to older mothers are at a higher risk of having genetic abnormalities due to the fact that a women’s age affects her eggs’ ability to divide normally. The most common condition that can result from this irregular genetic pattern is Down’s syndrome. This phenomenon occurs when there is an extra set of chromosomes present in the child’s body, causing a number of developmental and physical problems.
If you are over 35 and pregnant, your doctor will probably advise you to have diagnostic testing done that can determine if there are abnormal chromosome patterns present in your unborn child. One such test is amniocentesis, which can be performed at sixteen to twenty weeks of pregnancy and involves a needle being inserted that will enable the doctor to withdraw a small amount of amniotic fluid. This fluid is then analysed to detect any abnormalities. This test itself has some risk factors associated with it, such as miscarriage or preterm labor, although these have occurred in a very small percentage of cases.
Another test that can be used to detect abnormalities that may be present in a fetus is a chrionic villus sampling. This procedure can be performed when you are eight to twelve weeks pregnant, enabling detection at a much earlier stage of the pregnancy. This technique also involves the doctor inserting a needle into your abdomen to obtain a sample of the placenta. The chance of miscarriage and other complications are slightly increased when using this type of testing procedure.
Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling is another type of procedure that your doctor may suggest in order to detect fetal abnormalities. This technique can be performed after twenty weeks of pregnancy, and involves the withdrawal of blood from the umbilical cord. This blood sampling carries the same amount of a risk as an amniocentesis procedure does.
Another condition that can result from irregular egg division is multiple births. Many mothers over the age of 35 are shocked to discover that they are carrying more than one fetus. As these women are at a higher risk for a premature delivery under normal conditions, special care and precautions will need to be taken if you discover that you are having more than one child. Many times a doctor will order at least partial bed rest for these mothers to hold the labor off for as long as possible.
High blood pressure and diabetes are also more common in women who become pregnant after the age of 35. Regular doctor appointments are essential so that your doctor can keep an eye on any fluctuations in either of these areas.
Becoming a mother over the age of 35 is becoming much more common than it once was. By following your doctor’s orders and taking good care of yourself, your chances of having a healthy and happy baby can be almost the same as women who give birth in their twenties.