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What pregnancy risks do older women face?

If you are an “older” woman in Oregon, you face a difficult decision when it comes to getting pregnant. Although 35 definitely is not old by any other standard, it is with regard to pregnancy. There are many reasons why you may have delayed becoming a mother. You wanted to complete your education. You wanted to start a career. Now, however, your biological clock is ticking and you are running out of time to have your first child.

As reported by Medical News Today, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in 2016, more women between the ages of 30 and 34 had their first child than women between the ages of 25 and 29. This was the first time in more than 30 years that the birth rate for older women surpassed that of younger ones.

Risks for older mothers and their babies

While getting pregnant for the first time at or after age 35 does not mean that you and your baby will be harmed, it does mean that your risk for pregnancy and fetal complications is higher than it is for younger women. One of the greatest risks is that your baby will have Down syndrome. The chances of a 25-year-old mother having a Down syndrome child are one in 1,064. These chances increase as follows as the mother’s age increases:

  • Age 30 – one in 686
  • Age 35 – one in 240
  • Age 40 – one in 53

Your risk of miscarrying likewise increases the older you get. Miscarriage rates increase from 8.9 percent to 74.7 percent between the ages of 24 and 45. Stillbirths, too, are far more common among older women, being nearly twice as likely for women between the ages of 35 and 40 than they are for women between the ages of 18 and 34.

Other increased risks you face as an older expectant mother include the following:

  • Placenta previa
  • Preterm birth
  • Breech birth
  • Emergency C-section
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Stroke and/or heart attack

While your risk rates and those of your unborn child increase as you age, bear in mind that these are risks only, not a prediction, let alone a guarantee, that you and/or your baby will suffer a pregnancy-related emergency or a catastrophic outcome. This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.