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Pregnancy at a Later Age

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Who was the eldest woman to ever give birth? That was a 67-year-old Romanian woman named Adriana Iliescu, a retired university professor. In 2005 she gave birth to two twin girls. While the vast majority of women would never plan to have children in their 60s, many women are continuing the recent trend of becoming pregnant later in life.

From 1981 to 2003, the birth rate of women aged 40-44 doubled. Women (and adults in general) typically have greater financial stability, the older they become. Thus, they generally focus on their careers, education, or other priorities, before they consider starting a family. However, health risks should be considered. By the time a woman reaches her late 30s, it is more challenging to fertilize her eggs. In fact, after a woman reaches 30-years-old, every year her chances of becoming pregnant decreases 3-5%, with the rate speeding up beginning at age 40.

Furthermore, after becoming pregnant, middle aged women suffer from increased health difficulties. The women themselves tend to have medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, prior to becoming pregnant. Also, an increase in congenital abnormalities begins. Additionally, the rate of miscarriages increases also, being roughly twice as high for older women as for younger women. Finally, for mothers over 40-years-old, the change of having a premature baby skyrockets by 40%, while the need for a caesarean delivery becomes twice as high.

Older women can take certain steps to minimize pregnancy complications that result from their ages. Genetic counseling and testing are typically available for woman older than 35-years-old. This type of examination can be completely basic and risk-free to the baby, such as the triple screen test. However, other types of testing, such as ultrasound and for Down syndrome, include hazards to the pregnancy. In addition, the following steps can be taken to reduce the chance of difficulties during pregnancies later in life:

    Avoid alcohol and cigarettes
    Begin an exercise program
    Take folic acid
    Address pre-existing medical problems
    Consume a healthy diet

With ideal and early prenatal care, and before the pregnancy if possible, midlife pregnancies can be as successful as those of women who are younger than 30-years-old. It is vital for older women to have an exceptional health insurance plan, and to talk about their pregnancy plans, with a health care provider. This will ensure that the optimum pregnancy results will occur.

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