The rate of fertility in women at 40 years and beyond decreases rapidly. The main reason behind this decreased fertility is the reduction in the number of healthy eggs produced by the ovaries of the woman.
Statistics highlight that eggs produced by a woman at 40 bear genetic abnormalities in 90 percent cases. Thereby, defining the extreme risk associated with pregnancy at that age.There are several complications that may arise during pregnancy at 40 years or beyond. Older women are more susceptible to problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, especially if they are on the family way for the first time. However, with adequate medical assistance these problems can be kept in control. The possibility of a miscarriage is higher during such pregnancies. At the age of 40, the rate of miscarriage is 33 percent. Women pregnant at 40 are exposed to the risk of placenta previa that leads to excessive bleeding during delivery. As a result, a caesarean section becomes the only solution. In fact, as it is, delivery through a cesarean section is more common in pregnancies of this age.
Labor may be extremely stressful and prolonged as the age of the pregnant woman increases. This may be more so in cases of first pregnancy. Such circumstances cumulatively lead to fetal distress. Low birth weight that is less than five and a half pounds and preterm deliveries, which means before 37 weeks of pregnancy are the other risks involved. However, these risks can be controlled by keeping a check on smoking.
It is medically established that children born to women over 40 are more prone to genetic disorders. Genetic abnormalities occur at the ratio of 1:38 in women pregnant at age 40. One of the biggest risks is giving birth to a child with Down’s syndrome. Research reveals that the occurrence of Down’s syndrome is 1 in 10,000 in pregnant women 20 years of age; 3 in 1000 in 35 year old mothers and the incidence rises to 1 in 100 in women pregnant at 40. Poor egg health is the primary reason for this abnormality, a characteristic that gradually increases with age in women. Although Down’s syndrome is not preventable, it can be diagnosed during pregnancy.
Doctors recommend women of 40 years to sought medical help after just 3 months of trying naturally for conception. For treatment of infertility, IVF or in vitro fertilization is certainly an alternative. However, the success rate is only 10 percent per attempt as against 80 percent in women undergoing IVF in their twenties. Observing the statistics, doctors at times recommend the usage of donated eggs to bear a healthy pregnancy.
However, no matter what the age or the risks involved, good prenatal care and healthy lifestyle can certainly reduce the risks related to pregnancies at a later age in life.
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