Getting Pregnant at 40: Risks and Complications

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Many women are putting off pregnancy until later on in life so that they can accomplish everything that they want before beginning a family. Though this is a wise decision, it is important for all women to be aware of the health risks and complications that can occur with conceiving a baby later in life. Here are some of the risks associated with getting pregnant at age 40.

Fertility Problems Commonly Affect Women in Their 40s

It is very common for women who are in their mid 30s and early 40s to experience problems with fertility. According to the March of Dimes, about half of all women who try to become pregnant over the age of 40 experience fertility problems. Not only do the number of eggs that a woman releases each month decrease, but the quality of those eggs also is affected by age.

Getting Pregnant at 40 Increases the Risk of Miscarriage

The chance of having a miscarriage also increases with age. The risk of a woman having a miscarriage at age 40 to 44 is 35 percent, according to the March of Dimes, compared to the 20 percent of women who miscarry at ages 35 to 39. The risk of miscarriage is lower for women who are under 35. It is important for women who are planning to conceive at age 40 to be aware of the signs of miscarriage.

Birth Defects are More Likely For Women in Their 40s

One of the main concerns about conceiving in your 40s is the risk of birth defects. Chromosomal defects, such as Down syndrome, tend to be much more common in women who are 40 years old or over. According to the March of Dimes, one out of every 100 women at age 40 and one out of every 30 women at age 45 will give birth to a baby with birth defects.

To reduce the risk of birth defects, it’s important to make healthy lifestyle changes. Avoid drinking alcohol, doing drugs, smoking cigarettes, and be sure to eat healthy. Though birth defects can occur at any age and for many reasons, they tend to be more common for women who conceive when they are 40 or older, however.

Conceiving at 40 Increases the Risk of Complications

Women who get pregnant when they are 40 years old or older are more likely to experience pregnancy complications. They are more likely to develop gestational diabetes or high blood pressure after they have conceived. The risk of placental problems, premature birth, and stillbirth also increases. Preexisting health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, are also more likely. In many cases, women who become pregnant at 40 or older need to have c-section deliveries.

Though there are potential risks associated with conceiving at 40 or older, it is possible to have a safe pregnancy and healthy baby. Not only is it important to have regular prenatal checkups, but it is ideal to visit a doctor for a checkup before conceiving. Making healthy diet and lifestyle choices is also important for women who become pregnant at 40.