Risks of Pregnancy at 40

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 22, 2011

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Women at age 40 or above are more likely to give birth to babies with chromosomal deficiencies. Although there have been lot of reported cases of even women over 60 giving birth but they are not without significant complications. Advances in medical technology used by capable doctors enable successful pregnancies even after age 40, but it would unwise to ignore the associated risks.


Pregnancy Risks for 40 Year Olds

  • Risk of baby with Down syndrome is 1 in 759 at women age 40. This reaches the level of 1 in 302 at age 35 but leaps to 1 in 82 for 40 year old women.
  • Chances of birth defects are much more in pregnant women over 40. 6 to 8 percent babies born to women aged over 40 are likely to have some sort of birth defect.
  • Women over 40 who deliver a baby are more at risk of developing breast cancer 15 years later than those who have never had children.
  • The problem worsens due to the fact that a pregnant woman cannot be tested for breast cancer in her condition. Moreover, it is not possible to conduct a mammogram on her till she finishes breastfeeding that could be close to 2 years.
  • Women over 40 are more likely to get preeclampsia, and the more she drifts towards 50, the exponentially more is the risk percentage. For all women, the ratio for the medical condition is 3% while the same for 40 year old is 10 %. It rises to 35 % at age 50.
  • The weight gain during pregnancy is an additional load on the heart. Women getting pregnant at 40 expose themselves to greater risks of developing a heart condition.
  • If the 40 year old is trying to conceive through IVF, the hormone progesterone that is administered in the process causes and increase of blood pressure and cholesterol. If the woman has been a patient for these conditions, it could worsen it.
  • The risk of gestational diabetes increases to 7 % from the average of 3 % in all women. Some other risk factors such as high blood sugar level, diabetes in the family, overweight body or instance of gestational diabetes in earlier pregnancy are also responsible but women with no such conditions also develop gestational diabetes at an advanced age.
  • Fifty percent of 40 year old pregnant women deliver through a C-section. This is because their uteruses are not malleable enough to contract during delivery.

Pregnancy at 40 years old is a tough decision but you can come through it with adequate medical attention and personal care.



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