Posts Tagged ‘ chromosomal abnormality ’

Pregnant Over 50: What Are the Risks?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Writer Judith Lederman shared her story of being pregnant at 53—and just this weekend, gave birth to her twin sons. According to her doctor, high-risk OB/GYN Alvin Schoenberger in Novi, MI, attempting pregnancy after the age of 45 is not for the faint of heart. “There are some risks that are increased just because of your age, and have nothing to do with pregnancy, such as heart disease,” he says. “But advanced maternal age also puts you at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, preeclampsia, miscarriage, stillbirth, placenta previa, and increased risk of having kids with congenital anomalies.”

These increased rates of complications are significant— children born to mothers over 45 have a one in 40 chance (or even greater) of having Down Syndrome. In his practice, it’s rare for patients over 45 to attempt pregnancy. ”In the early 40s, some of these risks are increasing. But pregnancy in your late 40s a little more uncharted waters, and over age 50 I’ve only had one patient. It’s simply not that common.”

Before you consider an over-45 pregnancy, you need to consider what risks you and your child will face, and what you would do if, for instance, some of the prenatal testing indicated Down Syndrome or another chromosomal abnormality. You may also need to consult with a fertility specialist, as achieving pregnancy after 45 without intervention is uncommon. “It’s a rare, rare, rare mother who is 50 years old who hasn’t had some form of fertility treatment,” says Dr. Schoenberger.

If you are considering pregnancy over 45, Dr. Schoenberger advises you to get fit—and get informed—pronto. “Stay in good shape, ideally be at ideal body weight, and exercise,” he says. “You also should know all the statistics of what you’re getting into, especially the increased risk for chromosomal problems. And make sure you think about the other end of things. You need to consider what happens when your child is 15 and you’re not in good health or not even around.” That’s especially important if your child does have Down Syndrome or another issue that may make it difficult for him to live a fully independent life as an adult.

But as long as you’re in good health—and you’re prepared for any potential worst-case scenarios—pregnancy over 45 (or even 50) can be a possibility.

Image: Pregnant woman by Nizzam/Shutterstock.com

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