21.09.2015

Risk of having a baby over 40 years old

Dr Louise Kenny, professor of obstetrics at University College Cork and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, says she would never try to talk a woman or couple out of trying to conceive just because she is over 40.
The average age of women giving birth in Ireland is 31.5, according to a 2012 ESRI report on pregnancy and births, and more than one-quarter of all births are to women over the age of 35. There is no doubt that the optimal time to have babies is in your 20s when you are at your most fertile and your risk of miscarriage, birth defects and other complications is lowest. Dr Louise Kenny, who is professor of obstetrics at University College Cork and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, says that despite the well-documented risks, she would never try to talk a woman or couple out of trying to conceive just because she is over 40. Kenny had her own children in her 20s, but many of her colleagues and friends are having their babies in their 40s for different reasons; some down to busy careers and others because they did not meet the right partner until they were older.
Kenny feels the increased risk of Down syndrome in older mothers is often well understood and overestimated by mothers, while the effect of ageing on fertility tends to be less well understood and underestimated. However, despite all these increased risks, Kenny points out that many women can and do get pregnant from their late 30s onwards, and enjoy uncomplicated pregnancies.
Uma Thurman meanwhile didn't plan on having any more children after the two children she had with ex-husband Ethan Hawke, until she met new man Arpas Busson. The study revealed mothers who give birth over the age of 40 were less likely to have sickly children.


Two years ago a major study from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists warned that women aged 35 were six times more likely to have problems conceiving than those ten years younger. 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.
However, either by necessity or choice, the number of women having babies in their 20s has fallen significantly over the past number of decades.
The risk of having a baby born with Down syndrome, the chromosomal abnormality women are most aware of, increases from one in more than 1,000 in your 20s to one in 250 at the age of 36.
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. This risk increases to 1 per cent at the age of 40 and to about 3 per cent at the age of 44.
Women over 40 have a threefold increased risk of the serious pregnancy complication pre-eclampsia, an increased risk of miscarriage and gestational diabetes, and a higher chance of needing a Caesarean section.
It claims that women over 30 are being panicked into believing they have fallen over a ‘fertility cliff’, when the decline is nowhere near as steep as generally assumed.'I see age as just a number.


Like many single women in her early 30s, Jean Twenge found herself assailed by frequent moments of baby panic. A lot of the couples were over 35 and had been trying to get pregnant for ten years.’Ultimately, she thinks it’s unhelpful for doctors to put pressure on women to have their children younger.
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. While she’d hoped to have children by the time she was in her 30s, her then fiance broke up with her, primarily because he didn’t want children.She was then single for seven years until she met Matthew, 33, in 2009.
When she began trying for a baby aged 40, her doctor told her it would be more difficult than for a younger woman.



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