Women are waiting to have children, and this has medical professionals concerned about the risks for both the mother and the child. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that birth rates among women aged 30 to 34 surpassed those among women aged 25 to 29. Moreover, this is something that hasn’t happened in over three decades. This current trend coincides with the increase in multiple births and congenital disabilities the medical community is seeing.
Careers the Number One Reason Women Wait
So why are women waiting so long to have children, especially with the known risk factors associated with it? Higher education levels, improved methods of contraception as well as social shifts are to blame. Not to mention, women want to wait longer to start their families so they can focus on their careers.
These women are being termed as advanced maternal age (AMA) or older mothers. They feel that these terms are unfounded and that their age has no effect on their health or the health of the child. Are they right? Or does the medical community have a point in stating that 35 and older may to be too old to have a baby?
Let’s take a look at some of the risks of delaying pregnancy until age 35 years or older:
Decline in fertility- As we grow older, there is a decline in fertility and this could make conceiving a child more difficult. Women see a declining number of eggs and men see declining sperm counts, motility, and semen volume.
Genetic risks- Research published in the Journal of Physiology states that certain genetic risks are present in pregnancy as women grow older. These can include Down’s Syndrome, autism, physical birth defects and more.
Miscarriage- The risk of miscarriage increases as women grow older. The average rate of miscarriage grows from 8.9% in women aged 20-24 to over 74% in women 45 years and older. This is a result of the decline in a woman’s egg quality.
Stillbirth- Stillbirth is twice as common in older women than younger ones. Furthermore, this number increases if the woman aged 35 or older is having her first child.
Pregnancy-related complications- Women aged 35-40 are shown to have more pregnancy related complications than their younger counterparts. These complications can result in emergency cesarean delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, gestational diabetes and placenta previa. Additionally, there is also a risk of breech positioning of the baby, preterm birth, low birth weight and high birth weight.
Stroke- Pregnant women aged 40 and older are at greater risk of ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease. This is according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2016.
Medical Community Skeptical
While some in the medical community are opposed to this idea, statistics show that there are certain risks associated with giving birth at ages 35 and older. However, most women aged 35 and older will have a normal pregnancy with very few birth complications. They will also go on to deliver a healthy baby. The best advice is to speak with your doctor and discuss whether waiting to have a child is a good idea or not.