When a pregnant woman is older than 35, it is considered elderly pregnancy. The number of women opting for pregnancy at an older age is on the rise due to delayed marriage commitments for career or finance-related reasons.
People say the older you get the higher the risk of Down syndrome in your baby. Is that true?
It is common to find women over the age of 35 getting married and even if they do get married earlier, they often become older than 35 by the time they bear a second child. Statistically, when a mother is older than 40, 15 out of 1,000 babies can be born with Down syndrome. The number drops to 4 out of 1,000 when the mother is 35, and falls to 2 when she’s 33. Meanwhile, the overall statistics on babies with Down syndrome are only one out of 800 to 1,000. Therefore, doctors recommend that you take the amniocentesis for chromosome abnormality if you’re older than 35.
Studies say that older women have a higher risk of experiencing an abnormal number of chromosomes (aneuploidy) such as Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18), Patau syndrome (trisomy 13), other than Down syndrome (trisomy 21). Other complications that may be experienced in elderly pregnancy include obstetric hypertension, low birth weight, premature labor pains, toxemia, obstetric diabetes, placental abruption, and placenta previa. So those in the AMA should acknowledge these risk factors before gestation and provide proper perinatal care.
Can an older dad cause problems with fetal health?
An elderly father is known to induce chromosome mutation, heightening the likelihood of achondroplsia for dwarfism, excessively taller height, longer face, and Marfan syndrome that entails artery abnormalities. In addition, 20 to 30% of trisomy 21 in Down syndrome is attributed to the father, and the older the father is, the more likely Down syndrome will occur. Those with a father aged 40 or over are reported to be prone to situs inversus, harelip, hydrocephalus, heart malformation, and large vessel malformation. Therefore, fathers who are older than 35 and expecting a spouse to get pregnant need to pay attention to these risk factors.