Advances in medicine have made it easier for mothers over forty years of age to give birth to healthy babies. Many doctors are concerned that some women may overlook the need for more careful monitoring of the mother’s health before, during and after pregnancy. Carrying an infant to term and giving birth place tremendous stress on a woman’s body, and this gets more difficult with age. Ten health issues that may require more attention after forty are:
As women age, they are more likely to develop high blood glucose. This can be dangerous for both mother and baby. Women who have borderline blood sugar before pregnancy are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
High Blood Pressure
As people age, they are more likely to develop hypertension. Add to this the demands of pregnancy, and the mother is at even more serious risk. The July 2012 issue of the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” warned that the threat of heart attack triples during pregnancy.
Poor Positioning of the Fetus
Women over forty are more likely to have their infants assume inappropriate birth positions, increasing the duration and risks of labor and delivery.
This condition is caused by an embryo that implants low in the uterus instead of the normal higher position. The placenta grows over the cervix and may completely block the opening. The biggest danger is heavy bleeding. Sometimes the only safe way to deliver the baby is with an early C-section.
Premature Delivery or Miscarriage
The older a woman is when carrying a child, the more likely she is to have a miscarriage or to deliver a premature infant. This can result in low birth weight and other difficulties for the infant or death of the baby.
Older women who become pregnant are more likely to have more than one baby. This increases the difficulty and risks of pregnancy for both mother and child.
Even when they carry an infant to term with no major problems, older women may experience retention of the placenta. Within hours of delivery, the doctor will need to anesthetize the mother and perform a D&C to prevent hemorrhaging.
Increased Cancer Risk
Due to the higher level of estrogen during pregnancy, any cancer cells present in the body will grow more quickly. This can lead to a higher incidence of cancer in women who give birth past the age of forty, when they are more likely to harbor these rogue cells. Women who take fertility drugs to increase ovulation also run a greater risk of developing cancer.
Mothers who are 32 have a 1 in 725 chance of giving birth to a Down Syndrome child. At age 44, that risk increases to 1 in 41, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Fetal Heart Defects
The National Institutes of Health warn that babies born to women over forty have four times the risk of a serious heart defect.
Women over the age of forty can have healthy infants but need to work with their physicians more closely. They should have tests prior to pregnancy to make sure they are in good health and likely to carry the fetus safely. Being aware of the possible risks is the first step in successfully taking this journey.
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Ken Myers as an Expert Advisor on multiple household help issues to many Organizations and groups, and is a mentor for other “Mom-preneurs” seeking guidance. He is a regular contributor of “find nannies”. You can get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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