Health risks of having a baby at 42

Babies born only a week early are at higher risk of a host of serious health problems from autism to deafness, research has shown. With most planned caesareans carried out at 39 weeks, the finding raises concerns that women who have the operation for non-medical reasons could unwittingly be endangering the health and prospects of their children. If you and your partner have delayed having children until you are in your forties you are probably already aware that it's a bit more difficult to conceive but it's far from impossible. We spoke to Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director at Create Health, to find out all you need to know about getting pregnant after 40 so you can be as prepared as you need. Not to paint a bleak picture but naturally risks are heightened in pregnancies after the age of 40.
Statistics from Baby Centre show: “At 40 your chance of conceiving within a year of beginning to try is about 40 to 50 percent, compared to a woman in her mid-30s, who has a 75 percent chance. But don’t be disheartened there is a much more positive picture that has only just come into play.The NHS National Guidelines for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines have just had a recent update from their 2004 requirements of IVF only allowing women up to the age of 39 to have the treatment on the NHS. Speak to your health professional or GP as soon as possible and they will advise you on the best course of action. I had achieved my career goals, and am a more patient, settled and self-assured person.‘My priority now is to stay healthy for my children.

Baby Rhiannon is now 14 months old and Jessica says they would like to try for more children in the next year or so, but will be more laidback.‘I don’t think I would have too much problem conceiving again because I don’t drink or smoke and I’m very healthy,’ she says. They suggest that deliveries should ideally wait until 40 weeks of gestation, because even a baby born at 39 weeks – the normal timing for elective deliveries these days – has an increased risk of special educational needs compared with a baby born a week later.’ But Professor Andrew Shennan, an obstetrician at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, said the risks of leaving elective C-sections to 40 weeks should be studied.
It followed 2004 research that suggested of those having sex twice a week, 82 per cent of 35 to 39-year-olds conceived within a year - just 4 per cent fewer than those aged 27 to 34. Their eldest, Alex, aged nine, was conceived less than six weeks after the couple started trying for a baby when Sarah was 41. Jill Pell, a professor of public health, made the link after studying the school and hospital records of 400,000 children. The professor, who is also a spokesman for the baby charity Tommy’s, said: ‘The relationship between early birth and later problems in life, such as special educational needs, is well established. Like many single women in her early 30s, Jean Twenge found herself assailed by frequent moments of baby panic.
Claudia, originally from Yorkshire but now based in Spain with her husband Javier, 30, says each time she conceived naturally and extremely quickly, with textbook pregnancies.She feels so strongly that older women face an unwarranted barrage of negativity if they want to try for families that she wrote Right Time Baby, a guide to later motherhood.
More research is required.’ The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said that waiting until 40 weeks to perform an elective C-section also carried risks, and therefore was unlikely to be better for the baby overall.

When she began trying for a baby aged 40, her doctor told her it would be more difficult than for a younger woman. And 41 per cent of babies are born at between 37 and 39 weeks – a figure that is on the rise, largely because of an increase in nonemergency or elective caesareans. One in four babies is delivered by C-section – almost double the World Health Organisation’s recommended rate. Professor Pell, of Glasgow University, stressed that women having planned caesareans shouldn’t panic about the increased odds of special needs, because the chances of any one baby being affected are very low.
But she added: ‘It is important from a public health point of view as so many infants are born pre-term. Although the operation can be a lifesaver, it carries well-documented risks for mother and child.

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