Let's face it: Pregnancy can be challenging —both physically and emotionally—whether you're 21 or 41. But as more and more women delay having children, we no longer bat an eye when mamas of a certain age, from celebs like Halle Berry to our coworkers and next-door neighbors, appear to sail through pregnancy and deliver healthy, bouncing babies.
But a new study from the University of Eastern Finland proves what many older moms already know: Pregnancy can be riskier when you're of an "advanced maternal age" (that's charming medical speak meaning "over the age of 35").
Reeta Lamminpää, MHSc, looked at data from nearly 700,000 Finnish women, specifically observing "pregnancy outcomes and complications... in four different groups of older women: women diagnosed with preeclampsia, women who were smoking, who were overweight or obese and who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)." Not surprisingly, she found that "AMA women had increased risks related to pregnancy and birth compared to younger women aged less than 35 years old." Specifically:
"AMA women with preeclampsia had increased risk especially for preterm deliveries and small-for-gestational-age-infants (SGA). AMA women who were smoking had increased risk especially for low birth weight (LBW), preterm deliveries, foetal death and SGA-infants. AMA women who were overweight or obese had increased risk especially for preterm deliveries, foetal death, large-for-gestational-age"•infants (LGA), Caesarean and preeclampsia. AMA women diagnosed with GDM had increased risk especially for preterm deliveries, foetal death, LGA-infants and preeclampsia."
Yikes! However, the study points out that identifying older moms-to-be in these at-risk categories could mean earlier detection of complications and lead to healthier moms and babies—and that's good news for moms of any age.