Pregnancy after 35
How does age affect fertility?
As women reach their thirties, they experience a decline in fertility. The fertility regulator HFEA says female fertility declines sharply after a woman reaches the age of 35.
Complications during pregnancy are also more common when women reach 35.
Age-related decline in fertility may be due, in part, to the following:
- A decrease in the number and health of the eggs to be ovulated.
- Changes in the hormones resulting in altered ovulation.
- Fewer eggs.
- A decrease in sperm count.
- A decrease in the frequency of intercourse.
- The presence of other medical and gynaecological conditions, such as endometriosis, which may interfere with conception.
Pregnancy after 35, is it safe?
While advances in medical care can help women over age 35 have safer pregnancies than in the past, infertility and pregnancy complications for this age group are higher than for younger women. If you have decided to delay having a child, you should understand the risks associated with this so you can take precautions to minimise risks and improve your chances for a healthy pregnancy and child.
Pregnancy after 35, does the risk of birth defects increase?
The risk of giving birth to a child with a birth defect does increase as the mother's age increases. This is probably due to abnormal division of the egg, called nondisjunction. This leads to unequal chromosomes at the end of division. The risk of a baby having Down's syndrome increases with the mother's age when she gives birth. The greatest risk at around one in 30 is linked to women who are 45 or over when their baby is born.
Pregnancy after 35, will the risk of miscarriage increase?
Studies show that the risk of miscarriage (loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation) is 12% to 15% for women in their 20s and rises to about 25% for women at age 40. The increased incidence of chromosomal abnormalities contributes to this increased risk of miscarriage in older women.
Pregnancy after 35, what other problems can arise?
- Chronic health problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, are more common in women in their 30s and 40s. Be sure to get these conditions under control before you become pregnant, since they pose risks to both you and your baby. Careful medical monitoring, commenced before conception and continued throughout your pregnancy, can reduce the risks associated with these conditions.
- High blood pressure and diabetes can develop for the first time during pregnancy, and women over the age of 30 are at increased risk. If you are pregnant and over age 35, this makes it especially important that you get early and regular antenatal care to ensure early diagnosis and correct treatment.
- Stillbirth (delivery of a baby that has died before birth) is more common in women over age 35. Older women are also more likely to have low-birth weight babies (weighing less than 5.5 pounds at birth).
- Caesarean birth is also slightly more common for women having their first child after age 35.