Geriatric pregnancy 101
What is a geriatric pregnancy, and are there risks?
More women than ever before are experiencing geriatric pregnancies
The term itself can be a surprise if a mom-to-be isn’t expecting it
Typically, women who are diagnosed with the condition don’t have too much to worry about
Over the last several decades, the average age of pregnant has been increasing. While in 1980, women had their first child when they were 22.7 years old, in 2016, the average age is 26.3. While these women wait longer, they often find that they’re more emotionally prepared and financially stable for the challenges that motherhood brings.
If a woman chooses to wait longer, however, they may find that their pregnancy comes with a new term: geriatric pregnancy. Some women wonder if there are geriatric pregnancy risks and what the geriatric age range is? We’ve got the details.
What is a geriatric pregnancy?
A geriatric pregnancy is defined as a pregnancy of a female who is aged 35 or higher. Also defined with the term “advanced maternal age,” it is becoming an increasingly common phenomenon.
The numbers of geriatric pregnancies are growing. While sometimes the term causes anxiety, there’s not much cause for worry.
Approximately one in six pregnancies is a geriatric pregnancy. While most of these pregnancies in older women conclude without any incidence, they’re considered higher risk pregnancies when compared to those of younger women.
Five geriatric pregnancy risks
If a mother-to-be’s pregnancy is classified this way, however, there’s no reason to panic. Sure, there is an elevated risk for pregnancy complications when compared to younger counterparts, but that’s not the same thing as saying that pregnancy is high risk overall. In fact, some pregnant women who are younger turn out to have more complicated, riskier pregnancies than others who are of advanced maternal age.
What are the risks? Here is a partial list of conditions that doctors monitor more carefully during the pregnancies of women who are older than 35:
- Chromosomal abnormalities: One of the main risks for pregnancies in older women is that, because of the advanced age of their eggs, they’ll experience chromosomal defects that affect heir baby’s health. The risk is 1 in 192 for a woman who is aged 35 and elevates to 1 in 66 by the time she’s 40. These risks can be monitored, though, and if there’s an issue, doctors can typically detect it early.
- Miscarriage: Chromosomal abnormalities cause a substantial amount of miscarriages, so it stands to reason that as a woman’s chance of chromosomal abnormalities rises, as do the instances of miscarriage.
- C-Section: Compared to 26 percent of women in their 20’s, approximately 39 percent of women who are over 35 have a c-section. This amount increases to 47 percent when women reach 40 and above. This is possibly because older women are simply more likely to have had a c-section previously and aren’t advised to have a vaginal birth after that.
- Preeclampsia: This condition, which often manifests later in pregnancy, is serious, and the likelihood of getting it rises as a woman ages. Statistics show that women after 35 and into their 40s have between a 1.5 and 2 percent higher chance of experiencing the condition. However, even though it is higher than for a younger woman, the chances of experiencing it are still relatively small.
- Gestational Diabetes: Pregnancy-related cases of diabetes climbs dramatically with age. Maintaining a healthy weight before and during pregnancy, as well as keeping up a good nutritional program and exercise, can help prevent or manage the competition.
A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:
- What to avoid when you’re pregnant | Pregnancy 101
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- Tips for your second pregnancy | Pregnancy 101
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