Advanced Maternal Age
As women age, the risks associated with pregnancy increase.
If you’re over the age of 35, your pregnancy may be considered high risk due to “advanced maternal age.” This simply means you are more likely than younger women to have certain conditions and complications that may put you and your baby at risk.
What Are Your Risks?
Women over 35 have a greater risk of complications that include:
The likelihood of having twins or multiples increases as you age. It also increases with the use of fertility treatments, which are more common with older women. The risks with multiples include premature birth, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and fetal growth problems.
Older women are more likely to have preexisting diabetes or to develop diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications including birth defects, excessive fetal growth (baby is too large), miscarriage and preeclampsia.
High blood pressure
As women age they are more like to have high blood pressure (hypertension), or to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy (gestational hypertension). The risks can be life-threatening, including preeclampsia, problems with the placenta and fetal growth, preterm delivery, and placental abruption.
Babies born to older women are at greater risk of birth defects caused by genetic disorders or chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome. Present at birth, these defects can cause problems in the baby’s overall health, how the body develops, or how the body functions.
Aging increases the risk of losing your baby through miscarriage or stillbirth.
Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure disorder that develops during pregnancy. It is a leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths for both mother and baby. Risks include reduced blood supply to the fetus, problems with organ function in the mother, placental abruption, and pregnancy loss.
Premature birth and low birthweight
Premature babies may face serious health problems at birth and later in life.
Specialized Care for Healthier Mothers and Babies
If you are over the age of 35, we will work with you to help ensure the best possible outcomes for you and your baby.
Types of specialized care may include:
- Preconception counseling for high-risk pregnancies for the healthiest possible start to your baby’s life
- Expert assessment of the age-related risks to you and your baby
- Early and more frequent prenatal visits to closely monitor your pregnancy and quickly address any complications
- Early detection and treatment of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure
- Coordinated management of any preexisting conditions and medications you take for those conditions, in collaboration with your other health care providers
- Ongoing monitoring of your baby’s growth and development
- A carefully planned delivery, preventing the need for a cesarean delivery when possible
- Optional birth defect screening, testing and counseling
- Collaboration with neonatologists and access to NICU facilities following birth, if needed